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First Bronx school-based health clinic opens at Kennedy

Bronx Times
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This is not your parent’s school nurse’s office.

It was on March 30, at John F. Kennedy High School where teachers, students, elected leaders and officials with the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital cut the ribbon on a new 21st century school-based health clinic, known as an SBHC.

This is the first time Manhattan-based Presbyterian Hospital set up an SBHC in the Bronx, which hospital officials said is the largest ever built by the international hospital. A clinic located inside the school, the SBHC is already open to all 3000 students who attend one of the eight schools on Kennedy Campus, located at 99 Terrace View Avenue in Kingsbridge.

The new $2.3 million clinic, located in the first floor, is comprised of four dental rooms, four counseling rooms, and a health education room. There’s also the eerily familiar hospital smell wafting through the clinic.

Doctors from Presbyterian and Columbia University’s Mailman School for Public Health are on hand to treat students who experience toothache, stomach or mental aches. Students who visit the clinic don’t need any health insurance to be admitted.

“’More than just Band-Aids’,” quipped Robert Guimento, vice president of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Network.

Other initiatives include reducing the number of teen pregnancies, which Jaclyn Mucaria, senior vice president of Ambulatory Care and Patient Centered Services at NewYork-Presbyterian, said have dropped whenever an SBHC is opened.

The project combined the efforts of the New York City Department of Education, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. In late 2008, top hospital brass began its effort to open an SBHC. They secured a Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law grant from the New York State Department of Health. The grant is designed to help build high-tech medical clinics in poor neighborhoods.

“This is one of the largest campuses of any of the schools in the city so there was clearly a glaring need for [a school based health clinic],” said Dr. Robert Kelly, president of the NewYork-Presbyterian hospital.

“We try to stay as much as we can in the local community because we think it’s important that the hospital has a local presence,” said Dr. Kelly.

Since the 1990s SBHC’s have been available to students throughout the city.

“We’ve had reduced emergency room visits, improved attendance at school, and prevented hospitaliz­ations,” said Mucaria. Studies by The National Association for School-Based Health show healthy students are able to focus in school.

With the new SBHC, hospital officials hope students will utilize the services available to them. As for whether NewYork-Presbyterian will open another center in the Bronx, that remains to be seen.

To reach reporter David Cruz, call (718) 742-3383 or email at dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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