CINCINNATI, Ohio - Some Ohio communities are using creative models to help more folks access a doctor, nurse or other medical provider. Having a regular place to visit for medical care leads to better health outcomes. School-based health centers are one idea that is catching on.
The Cincinnati Health Department manages 13 of these centers, which Health Commissioner Dr. Marilyn Crumpton explains are basically a doctor's office that operates inside a school, providing convenient services such as immunizations, physicals and acute care for sick or injured students.
"It's a partnership between the school and the family and the provider," she says. "At the majority of the sites, the provider is a nurse practitioner. They write prescriptions, manage chronic illnesses and work in collaboration with a physician."
There are more than 60 school-based health centers across the state that also can provide care for teachers, families and community members.
Data from the Ohio Health Issues Poll shows that seven-in-ten Ohio adults report having a regular health-care home, a number that has not improved in the past five years.
Crumpton says building a personal relationship with a health-care provider promotes healthy behaviors and regular medical visits reduce the need for emergency care.
"Receiving routine and repeated care in the emergency room is unhealthy for kids because it means they aren't getting the regular prevention," she warns. "They aren't learning how to manage their own health."
She adds that by helping manage chronic diseases such as asthma, a prime cause of absenteeism, school-based health centers help students stay in class and parents from missing work.
"We often hear a parent talk about the fact that, 'I wouldn't be able to keep my job because of my child's chronic illness if I didn't have the health center in place,'" adds Crumpton. "So that's another huge benefit is keeping people in the workplace."
Other models expanding access to regular medical care include community-based health care centers, urgent care centers and mini-clinics.