Springfield High, community partners to create $1.3M school health clinic

Rocking Horse, a partner in the project, says, “Research that shows if kids are healthy, it can reduce barriers.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield City Schools will create a $1.3 million school-based health clinic that’s planned to open next year for students and their families.

The clinic, called an SBHC, will be located at the high school.

“This clinic will provide quality and convenient medical care to many of our students and families in ways that have not previously been available,” Superintendent Bob Hill said.

The district has partnered with Rocking Horse Community Health Center, Community Health Foundation and the City of Springfield for the project.

A few classrooms on the east side of the high school building that are currently used for various academic subjects will be renovated for the clinic space, which will also have its own exterior entrance.

Because of the overall size of the high school, the shifting of those classrooms for the clinic space will not affect the courses, said communications specialist Jenna Leinasars.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Although the clinic will offer students and their families services, the district intents to also offer hours outside of the school day for community members.

The idea of the clinic started after feedback from the community regarding access to care that was given during the design of the district’s most recent strategic plan.

Nettie Carter-Smith, director of community relations for Rocking Horse, said creating this clinic is great idea, citing a need for it.

“To have this opportunity to partner with Springfield City Schools and serve the students, specifically right (in the school), we know that there is research that shows if kids are healthy, it can reduce barriers, and getting good quality health helps them be more successful in school,” she said. “We are excited to be a part of that and look forward to keeping our kids healthy.”

Research shows that student attendance and grades improve in school districts that have a school-based health clinic.

“We know there are correlations between the physical health of a community and its stability, so we are excited to see and measure the many ripple effects that this clinic will have on our classrooms and overall student performance,” Hill said.

The SBHC will be staffed by Rocking Horse employees, who will work closely with the school nurses, but details such as operating hours and services offered are still being determined. However, examples of potential services may include primary care appointments and immunizations.

“We are still working out the details, but we hope to provide a wide range of services such as medical services to start, then exploring others,” said Stacy Lee, director of operations for Rocking Horse. “We want to explore all avenues and options while catering to students and their families.”

Rocking Horse has operated a smaller SBHC at the School of Innovation for Springfield students since at least 2009. This clinic offers basic medical care and behavioral health services as well as wellness checks, vaccinations and more, said Christy Detrick, director of nursing for Rocking Horse.

Detrick said they want to offer all of those services and more at the new clinic.

The school recently received a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant from the city that will fund the design services phase of the project. The district is in the process of securing additional outside funding through community partnerships for the rest of the project.

The overall structure of the clinic and other details are still being determined, but it’s projected to open in the fall of 2024.

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