By Casey Hans
Whether illness, injury, mental health services or preventative care are needed, two clinics in The Ann Arbor Public Schools stand ready to serve students and their families on site.
The University of Michigan Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools operates health centers at Stone High School and at Scarlett Middle School, which also serves the elementary school communities of Bryant, Carpenter, Mitchell and Pittsfield. The program also has clinics at schools in neighboring Willow Run and Ypsilanti.
“We try to do everything to take care of the whole person. We bridge a gap – we’re not here to replace a family doctor,” explained Tiffany Moore, a social worker with RAHS at Stone High School, who offers counseling and social services. “As a counselor, I meet with the families also.”
Lydia McBurrows, a nurse practitioner who supervises the Stone clinic, said they focus on teen health and that there are a number of programs to keep students healthy and engaged. An eight-week “Mood Matters” program deals with the effect of nutrition and fitness on a student mood and a five-week anger management group also meets on site. Stone also has a student Youth Advisory Council that deals with various topics of interest to students and helps to educate them on health matters, she said.
RAHS functions with the guidance of a Community Advisory Board that includes parents, students and community leaders who talk about the program and it’s operation. The program is operated by the University of Michigan Health System Community Health Services in collaboration with the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts, which provide in-kind space for the clinics to operate.
About 500 students and their families are seen each year at Scarlett and 200 students at Stone.
“There’s a high need here, but a lower volume,” McBurrows said said of the Stone program. “Even though we don’t have the same numbers, it’s important we’re here.”
Jennifer Salerno is the RAHS director and has been with the program for 11 years, shortly after it began. “As the program has grown, I’ve grown up with it,” she said.
The Ann Arbor clinics were started through a partnership between The Ann Arbor Public Schools and the University of Michigan Health System and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System at Carpenter Elementary School in 1996, according to Norma McCuiston, coordinator of partnerships and projects for the district. “Essentially, the partnership got the whole program started,” she added.
They launched at Carpenter and Mitchell elementary schools, opening in Scarlett in 2001, began serving students in Pittsfield and Bryant elementaries in 2003 and opened a clinic at Stone in 2004 with a grant obtained specifically for that program. In 2004, RAHS lost a major portion of funding and incorporated elementary school care into the clinic at Scarlett.
The programs started with limited space in the schools and have grown as staffing was increased and the number of students served increased, Salerno said, adding that a key part of the work the community and educational component the clinics provide.
“I think it’s important to help kids understand their health,” Salerno said. “What it means to be healthy and how it connects with your success in school and in life.”
At Scarlett, the school clinic is hopping, said Velda Coleman, another nurse practitioner who supervises that site.
“It’s been very rewarding,” said Coleman, who has been on site for about 7 months. “And we are very busy here. We get everything: headaches, cramps, injuries and colds, especially when the flu season was here. One of the biggest things we do is educate students about their health.”
RAHS accepts private medical insurance and also accepts fees that are calculated on a sliding scale. It also receives funding from UMHS, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Community Health, The U-M Department of Family Medicine and Pediatrics, the Washtenaw County Health Organization, the United Way of Washtenaw County and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Salerno said funding is always an issue with such a program, and has been even more so with a down economy. She said staff members roles have been restructured some to continue to provide the same level of services.
Coleman encourages the public to support the school-based clinics. “Not every school has it,” she said. “It’s a great value and a valuable resource for students.”
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090 ext. 51228.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools
School-based Health Centers
• Scarlett Middle School Clinic (734-677-2708)
2nd floor of Scarlett Middle School – Room 204
Hours: Monday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday 8 a.m.-noon, Wednesday 8 a.m.-noon, Thursday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-noon.
• Stone High School Clinic (734-973-9167)
Rooms 112 & 114
Hours: Monday 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Tuesday 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Weds 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Thursday 8:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m., closed on Friday.