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Visits to SBHCs slowed by pandemic, but growth continues

Aug 30, 2021

The start of a new school year gives us at Interact for Health a chance to assess the progress of our school-based health center work. Throughout the year we ask the centers we've funded to share the number of patients and visits they've recorded, along with other data. We use these numbers to update this infographic, which lets us see the growth and impact of our SBHCs. 

Since 2014, the number of school-based health centers has grown 76%, from 21 to 37. During that time, the centers have served nearly 135,000 patients.

"We're pleased that so many have received care from the school-based health centers we've funded," said Senior Program Officer Mary Francis. "SBHCs allow kids to get back to learning quickly and provide community members with another source for health care."

Access to dental and vision services at the SBHCs also has increased since 2014. The number of dental centers more than doubled, from eight to 18, and the centers served more than 87,000 patients. Vision services are now available at seven locations, up from one in 2014, with about 39,000 patients served during that time. 

After four years of steady growth, however, the number of patients served remained steady during the 2019-20 school year and then declined in 2020-21. The COVID-19 pandemic caused this decline.  

"The move from in-person school to remote learning along with other social distancing measures forced centers to reduce hours and services," Francis said. 

Despite the downturn in visits, expansion of SBHCs continues. Centerpoint Health has opened an SBHC in Norwood City School District that will eventually serve the entire community. PrimaryPlus Ripley in Brown County now offers dental services. 

The return to school is also a time to gather parental consent forms, which are necessary for any child to receive treatment at an SBHC. Interact for Health encourages families in districts with an SBHC to opt in to receive treatment.  

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