School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) or commonly referred to as in the school district of Hillsborough County in Tampa Florida, School Health Centers, is critical in providing comprehensive medical and mental health care to students. Such a facility provides services such as physical examination, screening, primary care, lab tests, over-the-counter medication, writing prescriptions, referrals, immunizations, screenings, and coordination with other agencies and activities. A school health center can have services provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical assistants, or nurses. School health centers help to increase access to medical, behavioral, and mental health services (Amaral, Geierstanger, Soleimanpour, & Brindis, 2011), help schools enhance their academic outcomes (Walker, Kerns, Lyon, Bruns, & Cosgrove, 2010), and ensure their participation in public health goals associated with disease prevention and control.
Each school is required to have a health center, which further needs a lead agency. The lead agency has the responsibility for school health center administration, oversight and ensuring that operations run smoothly. A lead agent is also the fiscal agent for such a center. The lead agency should also ensure that the school health facilities are housed in a real facility that can be easily identified by students and other stakeholders who might need the services of the facility as explained by Soleimanpour et al. (2008). Facilities are required to have at least one confidential treatment space. Further, there should be areas for patient and family reception.
Schools in Tampa Florida are at liberty to source for their own staff. However, the staff should be properly credentialed to practice. Further, staffs are required to be actively certified and with their current licensure, which is appropriate for their position. Members of staff are required to maintain their licensure using appropriate and necessary professional standards during their tenure in such facilities.
To manage effectively the health needs of the youthful population that is served by school health care, health care center staff in schools are required to have high levels of confidentiality and privacy. Medical information should be shared as explained in federal laws such as HIPPA, FERPA, and minor consent. School health centers have a responsibility to provide at an annual basis and in writing, the enrolled students and their parents/guardians of their rights and responsibilities concerning confidentiality, privacy, the legal position of sensitive services in the state, safety, informed consent, and financial responsibility among others.
To ensure that the health needs of the school are promoted and managed, school health center services in Tampa, Florida should be developed in accordance with the needs and resources of the target population. To achieve this, important stakeholders should be often considered during the development, provision, and oversight of the provision of school health services. At the basic levels, school health centers are managed by district policies. The relationship between the school/school district should be formal and in writing such as a written contract, MOU, or a statement of agreement. Such an agreement should be active at all times and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is up to date.
The coordination of the school health center with other agencies and individuals should be well described. For instance, there should be a referral process to another health center depending on the need and sense of urgency. The roles and responsibilities of a school nurse or health assistant/practitioner should be well defined. The protocols that define sensitive aspects such as protocols and sharing of medical records among others should be well defined.
In conclusion, healthcare is a sensitive aspect that requires the attention of a highly placed and well-trained practitioner. In Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa Florida, a health practitioner also covers the concept of mental health since the target population needs it often. There are rules and regulations, which guide school health systems.
Amaral, G., Geierstanger, S., Soleimanpour, S., & Brindis, C. (2011). Mental health characteristics and health-seeking behaviors of adolescent school-based health center users and nonusers. Journal of School Health, 81(3), 138-145.
Soleimanpour, S., Brindis, C., Geierstanger, S., Kandawalla, S., & Kurlaender, T. (2008). Incorporating youth-led community participatory research into school health center programs and policies. Public health reports, 123(6), 709-716.Walker, S. C., Kerns, S. E., Lyon, A. R., Bruns, E. J., & Cosgrove, T. J. (2010). Impact of school-based health center use on academic outcomes. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(3), 251-257
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