Thirty years ago, five School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) opened their doors in Oregon with the goal of providing patient centered health care services for all students, whether or not they have health insurance coverage. Today Oregon has 75 certified SBHC’s that operate in urban, suburban and rural school districts. Oregon SBHC Map
SBHCs are medical clinics that offer primary care services within or on the grounds of a school. Each SBHC is staffed by a primary care provider, other medical, mental, and/or dental health professionals and support staff.
SBHCs focus on reducing barriers that can keep youth from accessing health care such as transportation, cost and concerns about confidentiality. SBHCs bill Medicaid and many are credentialed with private insurance, but students may not be denied service for inability to pay for services.
Since inception, preventative health services such as immunizations have remained a core function for Oregon SBHCs. Certified SBHCs participate in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program and offer all ACIP routinely recommended vaccines at each site. Bringing vaccines to the school results in fewer missed opportunities for all vaccines as well as preventing school exclusion due to incomplete immunization status. Parent involvement and consent is managed by frequent communication between the SBHC and home.
Ceci Robe, manager for Rogue Community Health SBHCs in Jackson County, describes the importance SBHCs place on vaccine education and outreach. “We get the word out to students and staff in many ways, such as targeting 11th and 12th graders for meningococcal vaccine and HPV. We also outreach for Hepatitis A, and offer immunizations to siblings of students. We provide flu clinics for all district students and staff. We have a close partnership with the school’s registrar and create a system of referral. We get going in September and by February all students are compliant and no one is excluded from school. This is a great benefit to the student and schools.”
Ceci feels all encounters are an opportunity to evaluate and discuss vaccination status. “It only takes about 15 minutes, so we can update a student at school, during lunch. We are constantly monitoring the immunization status of all students that come into the health center for any reason. We update ALERT in a timely manner, so when the student transfers schools they have an updated record in hand.”