New partnership for school-based health centers begins this fall

The Roaring Fork Schools and Mountain Family Health Centers have partnered to operate five school-based health centers (SBHCs) in the district beginning this fall, including the addition of Glenwood Springs High School.

The partnership includes current SBHC locations at Basalt Elementary, Middle and High schools, Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, and now a new health center at GSHS.

“We want every student to have access to affordable, comprehensive, integrated health care services, regardless of their legal status, family circumstance, place of residence, or economic means,” Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said in a news release. “Offering health services in school where our students spend most of their time is a convenient and safe means of removing barriers to access and ensuring our students receive the care they need to be healthy and successful in school and life.”

At each school-based health center, Mountain Family has agreed to provide affordable medical, dental and behavioral health services. Assistance in applying for health insurance and financial assistance programs is also to be provided. Students attending a school that does not have a SBHC can access the nearest one in their community.

According to the release, the partnership was formed after a community-based process to define a vision for student health.

“Roaring Fork Schools contracted with the Colorado Association for School-Based Health Care to conduct a community health needs assessment during the 2018-19 school year and found there was a major gap in health services in Glenwood Springs, a need for increasing access to care for adolescents, and the need for coordination of health services across the district.”

School district officials then met with potential medical sponsors to determine their capacity and interest in taking on this work.

“The consensus was Mountain Family Health Centers is the best fit to operate the existing and new SBHCs,” the release stated.

“Mountain Family Health Centers has strong roots in our communities and is already the health care home for 21,000 people across Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties, many of whom are our families” Stein said. “They also have a proven track record of operating school-based clinics with medical, dental, and behavioral providers.”

Mountain Family Health Centers has received funding from the Colorado Health Foundation, Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, Garfield County, the city of Glenwood Springs and others to support capital and operating costs for the Glenwood Springs SBHC.

Funds for the other SBHCs also come from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and additional state and local funders.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Roaring Fork Schools to expand access to affordable healthcare for students throughout the Roaring Fork Valley,” Mountain Family CEO Ross Brooks said in the release. “School-based health centers are a proven means of improving health and educational outcomes.”

Mountain Family also operates a school-based care center in Avon.

Mountain Family Health Centers will continue to provide in-clinic and telehealth medical, behavioral and dental care at its other regional locations, including Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Rifle.

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