Fulton school board retains unique school-based health center

Fulton County school board members have approved continuing a one-of-its-kind, school-based health center at an elementary school.

Aimed at increasing student access to health care and lowering absenteeism in the classroom, the school-based health center at Lake Forest elementary – the only one in Fulton County’s district — started nearly a year ago. Board members at Thursday’s meeting agreed to keep the center going and consider it a success. They’re also considering adding more such centers to other district schools.

Lake Forest staff and community realized many of their students were missing multiple school days due to lack of health care access and support, according to school officials.

As a school that serves students predominantly living at or below the poverty level and with language barriers, the school began to realize a trip to the doctor could take multiple days. If access to health care were available at the school, student attendance and, in turn, academic success would improve, according to school officials.

The school sought a partnership to open the school-based health center with the Urban Health Program at Emory University and Family Health Centers of Georgia. Since opening in August 2013, the center has enrolled 822 patients and had 871 visits (as of April 2014).