Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Supervisors calls for school-based health centers


      Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

            L.A. County Board of Supervisors, 2nd District




March 10, 2009                                                        Contact:          James Bolden






LOS ANGELES COUNTY - Describing school-based health centers as a cost effective means to provide a wide range of quality health care services to children, adolescents and at-risk youth, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was joined by Supervisor Gloria Molina in calling for a plan to develop at least five such integrated projects within the county.


“These proposed projects would enable the integration of behavioral health services with county-funded primary care services at school based health center sites,” Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina stated in their joint proposal.  They argued that school-based health centers will prevent worsened chronic conditions, inappropriate emergency room visits and avoidable hospitalizations in the county.


Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina cited examples of other counties that have demonstrated how mental health outcomes have improved the performance of school-aged children when they received the appropriate integrated health and mental health services at school based health centers. “School-based health centers are a proven cost effective means to prevent worsened chronic conditions, inappropriate emergency room use and avoidable hospitalizations,” Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina wrote.


Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Molina said that various public and private funds could be leveraged to support school based health centers that provide integrated behavioral and medical services. For example, they said, “Mental Health Services Act dollars are available to fund programs that, among other things, reduce school failure or dropouts that may result from untreated mental illness.”


The Supervisors directed the County’s Chief Executive Officer, the Director of the Department of Mental Health and the Interim Director of the Department of Health Services to report back with a plan, including a timeline for developing the five potential school-based health centers within the county.


The Supervisors also encouraged the county to use the non-profit Integrated Behavioral Health Project as a resource for potential model approaches that have successfully integrated behavioral and medical services statewide and nationwide. They also encouraged collaboration with the appropriate school district officials to identify opportunities to leverage joint dollars.


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