LIMA, Ohio — When most students get the sniffles, they can visit to a school nurse. Now some Lima students will be able to see a primary care provider, mental health professional, even a dentist — all in the same building where they take their classes.
Through a partnership with Lima City Schools, Health Partners of Western Ohio will open a school-based health center this fall at Lima Senior High School. The product of more than five years of discussion, the new clinic will provide primary care services, mental health screenings, dental care, and immunizations, among other resources.
The center will serve Lima City Schools students and employees as well as their families, according to Superintendent Jill Ackerman, who said the community has reacted positively to the center. Head Start students at the site will also be eligible for care.
Health Partners of Western Ohio’s CEO, Beth West, said she hopes the clinic will become the “primary medical home” for students and staff members.
“The goal is really to improve the overall wellness of the school,” Ms. West said. By addressing health issues that keep sick students home or distract them in the classroom, the center can help boost test scores, improve graduation rates, and promote family engagement within the community, she added.
Health centers like the one coming to Lima are spreading across the state. In 2011, the School-Based Health Alliance, a national advocacy group, estimated that there were only 27 school-based heath centers within Ohio. But over the last several years, initiatives in Cleveland and Cincinnati have brought more than 20 clinics each to those metropolitan areas.
The Lima center will be the first of its kind in the region.
It was approved by the school board at an April 24 meeting and comes at no cost to the district. Patients will pay for services through their insurance or be charged directly on an income-based sliding scale.
Health Partners will fund the center and lease the building space from the school, Ms. Ackerman said. The clinic will have its own name, signage, and entrance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates there are more than 2,000 school-based health centers nationwide.