Partnership To Build School-Based Health Centers

Submitted by Elisabeth on Tue, 11/30/2021 - 9:01am
youth with doctor


Partnerships have always been at the heart of our work at United Way. Over the course of the past 100 years, so many local employers have chosen to partner with us by running workplace fundraising campaigns and their teams have raised crucial funds for our work. So many individuals, too many to count really, have given their time as volunteers on our board, committees, and with our nonprofit partners. 

This is no small thing to us. United Way is built on the idea that when we UNITE, we can accomplish so much more than we can alone. The power of those relationships, of those partnerships, has helped us gain important perspectives, weather tough times, and accomplish great things for our community. 

Exciting News for Local Families and Educators

It is because of this history, and the relationships we’ve built, that we are able to share some very exciting news with you today. 

Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, MAHEC, Buncombe County Health and Human Services, Blue Ridge Health, and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County are working together to launch 2 School-Based Health Centers in the coming year. Truly, this project would NOT be possible without each of these organizations contributing time, resources, and expertise. 

We’ll share more information with you as the project progresses but here are a few things you can expect: 

  • Who | Eventually, these clinics will serve students, families, school staff, and surrounding communities. But to start out the focus will be on students and school staff. 
  • What | Services at these clinics will include physical, mental, and behavioral health care. 
  • Where | Asheville Middle School and Erwin Middle School
  • When | The clinic spaces are being prepared and we hope to have in-person services starting by Spring 2022. In the meantime, families will have access to TeleHealth visits at the beginning of the new year. 

Why School-Based Health Clinics?

The relationship between health and education is deeply intertwined. 

Too many health issues, even minor ones, can become barriers for students and their families during the course of a school year and, over time, become a real obstacle to a student’s ability to graduate. 

Graduating from high school is a powerful predictor of future economic and health outcomes. In fact, as adults, graduates are 3 times LESS likely to live in poverty, 6 times LESS likely to be incarcerated, and live on average 9 years LONGER. 

A Deeper Look

School-based health centers are exactly what the name implies: the center of health in the schools where they are based. Students and their families rely on school-based health centers to meet their needs for a full range of age-appropriate health care services, typically including:

  •  primary medical care
  •  mental/behavioral health care
  •  dental/oral health care
  •  health education and promotion
  •  substance abuse counseling
  •  case management
  •  nutrition education

Students can be treated for acute illnesses, such as flu, and chronic conditions, including asthma and diabetes. They can also be screened for dental, vision, and hearing problems. With an emphasis on prevention, early intervention, and risk reduction, school-based health centers counsel students on healthy habits and how to prevent injury, violence, and other issues.

How Will This Help Local Families? 

Across the country, School-Based Health Clinics are seen as a way to improve student attendance and create a healthy school environment. These clinics also help reduce parental financial stressors by providing an option that can eliminate unnecessary and costly emergency room visits, as well as minimize work schedule conflicts. 

Blue Ridge Health will serve as the primary medical provider. They have over 57 years of experience and have provided SBHC services since 1994 in a number of our neighboring western counties. Our community is in good hands. 

Next Steps

As stated earlier, we hope to have in-person services starting in Spring 2022. In the meantime, families will have access to TeleHealth visits at the beginning of the new year. As we learn more and have pictures and stories to share, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the latest. 

Finally, we hope you are as excited about this partnership and service as we are. As a United Way champion, your support has helped us make this happen. So thank you and we hope we can count on your continued support.