Letter to the Editor - What would our school-community be like without our school-based health center?

What would our school-community be like without our school-based health center?  After the Maine Legislature cut $5 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine in July, school- based health center state funding was cut to 15 centers throughout Maine, including the Blue Devil Health Center here in Calais.  It is only through the commitment of the school administration and board that small pockets of funds were found to keep the doors open this year.

When new developments and improvements first happen in our communities and schools, it’s natural to be excited and glad. And it is just as natural to become used to having them around and taking them for granted. Did you know that the BDHC has been serving our students since 2004? We need to find funding to support services to stay open in the future.  We don’t want to look back and say, “You only know what you have when it’s gone.”

One parent wrote, “For our family, the BDHC is more than a convenient way to get sports physicals done each year. Dental check-ups and visits to the doctor’s office all take less time to arrange and much less time and energy to get to, when they are available at the place where kids spend most of their time—at school!” Sudden illnesses can also be treated more readily at the Blue Devil School-Based Health Center and problems needing follow-up visits are a snap when appointments can be made to fit students’ class schedules. Counseling and other mental health services are available for those students who need them.

Maine’s School-Based Health Centers deliver high quality and affordable health care to Maine children and adolescents where they are, in school.  With a focus on preventing and identifying illness early, we help keep children healthy, in school and ready to learn.  We provide access to care for many children who otherwise would not receive care.  By helping to keep children healthy we improve their chance of success in school and in life.

Next month you will have the opportunity to let your local legislators know how important the Blue Devil Health Center is to our community.  Thanks in part to State Representative Anne Perry, with support from State Senator Joyce Maker, a bill to reestablish funding for school-based health centers will begin to work its way toward a vote in the state legislature.  It is important that you let your representatives know of your concern and support.  We never want to find out what our school-community would be like without its school-based health center!

Ann Skriletz, R.N., School Nurse and Health Center Manager