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School-based Clinic Reflects Health Care Strategy

HOUSTON, TX (September22, 2015)

For most of the dozens of students who have walked through the doors of the Kruse Clinic in its first year of operation, there were no other options. Uninsured or underinsured, these students have limited access to health care, administrators say, a hardship that permeates into their ability to be effective in school.

For these students there is the Kruse Clinic, one of Memorial Hermann's newest such facilities, a place on school property in north Pasadena.

The clinic reflects a strategy that's been steadily gaining momentum in the Houston area over the last decade.

"Schools are hubs for all communities, but particularly for underinsured communities," said Deborah Ganelin, director of the Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corp., which oversees the school-based clinics.

Pasadena Independent School District trustees recently renewed an agreement with the clinic. The district does not pay for the clinics, Ganelin says, but provides land, utilities and other services.

She said overall the clinic's budget is more than $500,000.

It and similar clinics in the Alief and Aldine independent school districts are the newest of Memorial Hermann's 10 around Houston.

The Kruse Clinic serves Kruse, Gardens and Richey elementary schools, De Zavala Middle School, Jackson Intermediate School and Pasadena High School in Pasadena ISD.

Students can receive care including routine checkups, treatment for spring allergies and immunizations. The clinic can address mental health issues and dispense prescriptions. A mobile dental van roams around each of the schools, stopping for 30 days at a time.

Like Memorial Hermann's other centers, the Kruse Clinic houses a nurse practitioner, a clinical social worker and a licensed vocational nurse, Ganelin said.

It is free for students. Ganelin said the goal is to hit about 2,400 visits per year.

The first centers in the mid-1990s served South Houston and also the Pasadena Independent School District.
Each time Memorial Hermann expanded the number of clinics, Ganelin said, it has looked at which areas that have seen high numbers of emergency room visits for children with routine medical issues. This indicates that their families lacked insurance or other medical options.

Memorial Hermann isn't the only health provider that has embraced school-based health care.

Since 1995, the Harris Health System has operated a number of school-based clinics in the Houston, Deer Park and Galena Park school districts, as well as others.

In 2013, the KIPP charter school chain began offering school-based health care at its more than 20 Houston schools.
Their effectiveness and positive impact on the community has been backed up by research.

In a 2012 study from the University of California, San Francisco researchers surveying school-based health center programs found that they have a positive impact on "delivering preventative care, such as immunizations; managing chronic illnesses, such as asthma, obesity and mental health conditions; preventing reproductive health services for adolescents; and even improving youths' academic performance."

Justin Lopez, 15, first came to the Kruse clinic last year. He was hit by a stomach virus but had no insurance and nowhere else to go. He would repeatedly leave school early.

Then he found the Kruse Clinic.

And while his father now has access to Medicaid and a doctor across town, Lopez won't go anywhere else but that brown building.

"I have my doctor I go to, but I never go there because I like coming here," he said.

Kruse Clinic is located at 400 Park Lane, Suite M, and is open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is located behind Kruse Elementary School in Pasadena.

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