More Planning Grants Spur Growth for School-Based Health Centers in Ga.

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The Emory University Dept. of Pediatrics’ Urban Health Program wants to ensure more Georgia students have access to essential primary care in the place where they spend the most time—at school. Veda Johnson MD, associate professor of Pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine and director of the Pediatric Urban Health Program has announced funding for five additional planning grants throughout Georgia.

Each grant is being funded through a $3 million gift from The Zeist Foundation aimed at helping improve outcomes for at-risk children in metropolitan Atlanta and throughout the state. Five counties received grants that were awarded last August.

The planning grants are intended to stimulate development, collaboration and community discussion to expand the number of school-based health centers throughout the state.

“By expanding school-based clinic services, children in Georgia will benefit from improved access to primary health care, improved health outcomes and improved school attendance,” said Johnson. “The state will also benefit from reduced cost to the Medicaid system through the reduction in inappropriate emergency-room visits and hospitalizations for chronic illnesses.”

The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book—a national study on the well-being of America’s children—ranked Georgia’s children 43rd  in the nation for overall child well-being.  More than 237,000 of the state’s children are uninsured with very limited access to routine healthcare. Of the 1,930 school-based health clinics in the nation, there are now seven in Georgia, compared to 224 in Florida, according to the School-Based Health Alliance 2010-11 census.

“While these sites increase access to healthcare for Georgia’s neediest children and adolescents through comprehensive school health services, they have also proven to be an important factor in improving school attendance,” said Johnson.

Staffed by a multidisciplinary team including nurse practitioners, physicians, clinical social workers, psychologists, nutritionists, dentists, dental hygienists and administrators, school-based health centers provide comprehensive preventive and primary health care services to students on the school campus. Parents are required to sign written consents for their children to receive the full scope of services offered at the school based health centers.

The recipients of this year’s planning grants represent diverse collaborative partnerships among local school boards, PTAs, business and industry leaders from the communities, district government, health insurers, local hospitals, and health providers. Grantees include Clayton County Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, Douglas County School System, Randolph County School System, and Taylor County Board of Education.

The Program is supporting the following sites with partial funding for technical assistance: Coffee County Board of Education, Brooks County Family Connection, Emanuel County Family Connection, and McIntosh County Health Planning Board.

Emory Pediatric Urban Health Program has awarded 29 planning grants representing 34 counties in Georgia, and additional planning grants may be awarded next year. Successful proposals demonstrate how grant recipients will bring potential partners together in meetings, focus groups and planning teams to develop strategies to improve the health of school students, their siblings, and the surrounding community through the development of comprehensive school based health services. 

If you would like more information, visit The Emory University Dept. of Pediatrics’ Urban Health Program website and Facebook page, or contact Ruth Ellis at 404 778-1402 or at


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children’s Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital.  The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 18,000 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,500 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

Juliette Merchant

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

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