YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Representatives from Hannah Penn School, Family First Health, and the United Health Foundation were joined by Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Acting Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen Wednesday to discuss improving health care access for underserved communities through school-based health centers.

Services provided by school-based health centers include:

  • Medical
  • Behavioral
  • Dental
  • Vision

Such healthcare centers are places where Medicaid has higher rates in the community.

The health centers that are embedded in schools are used to ease barriers to care and achieve health equity among children.

“As a physician, I worked with families whose health was negatively impacted by the lack of access to health care and other essential services. This is a complex issue, and I am thrilled to be here with partners in health care, government, and education to be a part of the solution,” Secretary Arkoosh said. “Family First Health’s school-based health center is working to reduce barriers for families by providing critically needed services directly in school so that all young people, no matter their zip code, have equal opportunity to learn and grow.”

“As a pediatrician, I’ve seen first-hand how school-based health clinics help children who otherwise may have gaps in their healthcare get the medical, behavioral, dental, and vision services they need,” Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen said. “During National Health Center week, it is important to showcase how clinics such as Family First Health work to bridge the health equity divide and create a healthier Pennsylvania for all.”

In 2020, Family First Health’s school-based health center received $2 million in grant funding from the United Health Foundation.

This grant helped expand primary care that includes behavioral health care and wellness services.

The school-based center can be used by students, their families, and the York community.

Health navigators who connect families to social services and provide home visits where needed were funded by the grant as well.

“The United Health Foundation and Family First Health partnership has created incredible community impact across York,” said Blair Boroch, CEO, of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Pennsylvania. “Nearly 2,000 families have been engaged in wellness programs at Hannah Penn’s school-based health center, and students now have expanded access to primary care and behavioral health screenings. Community health workers are also providing in-home support to families, helping individuals manage chronic conditions, and screening and providing referrals to social supports.”

“The team at FFH is so pleased to welcome Secretaries Arkoosh and Bogen to our health center location at Hannah Penn K – 8 School. In a school-based location, we are uniquely able to deliver on our mission of improving lives by addressing the root causes of health disparities.  With partners like UnitedHealth Foundation, we have been able to expand our programs and services at the school to provide much-needed care for our community. National Health Center Week is the ideal time to highlight the impact of this model.  We believe there is no more important time to work closely with schools and families to improve health and are grateful for the opportunity to share our work.”