Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman, and Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera joined Superintendent Renee A. Foose today to officially open the county's first school-based Wellness Center at Bollman Bridge Elementary School.
Offered through a partnership between the Howard County Health Department and the Howard County Public School System, the Wellness Center is staffed by a pediatric nurse practitioner, medical office assistant, licensed social worker, and part-time physician. Services provided include physicals; immunizations; treatment for illnesses and injuries; management of obesity, asthma and other stable chronic illnesses; and behavioral health counseling.
The Wellness Center is open on school days from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for all Bollman Bridge students who have been enrolled by their parents to receive services. Center staff coordinate care with each child's primary physician, with a sliding scale of fees based on family income. Bollman Bridge was selected to serve as Howard County's pilot site based on the needs of the student population and the space available in the building.
School-based wellness centers have been associated with higher levels of student achievement, because children miss less class time due to illness, and are treated promptly for emotional and behavioral health issues that can interfere with learning. Onsite centers are especially helpful to working parents because of the difficulty and expense of taking time off from work for a child's doctor visits. There currently are 70 school-based centers throughout the state of Maryland.
"We are very pleased to be able to offer this new Wellness Center service at Bollman Bridge," Superintendent Foose said. "This Center will make it easier for students to access needed health care services."
"We need to do everything we can to make sure students are ready to learn when they come to school," Executive Ulman said. "That means making sure they're not hungry. It means making sure they are not in pain or discomfort. And it means providing whatever treatment we can, promptly and conveniently, so that they can spend as much time as possible in the classroom."
"Our partnership with the Howard County Public School System brings to fruition an idea long in the making," said Dr. Rossman. "The Bollman Bridge Wellness Center offers a multitude of services to participating children, but is key in securing a medical home for those who are without consistent health care. When care is accessible, continuous, comprehensive and coordinated, the children are healthier. Healthy children are better learners and have better academic success."