For more than 25 years, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health has partnered with the School District of Lancaster to offer school-based health centers, providing a convenient location for students to access medical care.
Although the Fulton Elementary School Health Center was originally funded by a federal grant, LG Health continued to provide free health services once it expired. Following the success of the Fulton health center, LG Health expanded access to include two additional free primary-care centers at Washington and Carter & MacRae Elementary schools.
In 2016, LG Health opened an extension of Downtown Family Medicine at McCaskey High School (DFM McCaskey). In addition to medical services, clinical staff assist families and students navigate insurance options and the billing and payment process.
All of the school-based health centers provide increased access to care with services that include physicals, immunizations, immediate medical attention and general health education.
“Students may not have the ability to see a primary-care provider due to scheduling conflicts, access barriers, transportation or insurance issues,” said Mary LeVasseur, health promotion specialist, Community Health Services.
“The on-site health centers provide access to students where and when they need it to ensure students stay in school.” LeVasseur explained that the clinicians not only provide traditional medical care, they also work closely with the School District of Lancaster and community partners to fill social needs such as clothing and transportation. The staff has developed a rapport with students, so that students rely on them as a trusted medical provider.
LG Health’s free elementary school health centers provided more than 2,300 visits last year. In addition to the elementary centers, the DFM McCaskey health center provided 600 student visits.
“We encourage families to visit their primary-care provider or work to connect them with a primary-care provider if they do not have one. However, when barriers arise the health centers are there to fill the gap and meet the needs of the students.” LeVasseur said.