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Health Care Law Yields More Grants for School-Based Health Centers

From guest blogger Nirvi Shah:

More school-based health clinics will be upgraded, expanded, or built from scratch—at least one will move out of a janitor's closet—thanks to a fresh infusion of federal cash that will also add enough capacity eventually to serve about 53,000 additional students across the country.

The $14 million in grants awarded to 45 sites by the Health Resources and Services Administration today are in addition to $95 million awarded to 278 centers in July. The money can be used only for improvements to facilities and equipment, not to hire staff. The grants come from money set aside in the federal Affordable Care Act passed last year.

Supporters of clinics at schools say the services they provide reach students, and in some cases families, who are uninsured or underinsured or who have chronic conditions including asthma and diabetes. They provide preventive care and can work on issues including obesity and bullying, said Mary Wakefield, HRSA's administrator, during a call with reporters today.

The second round of winners includes the city of Portland, Maine, which will get $198,000 to turn a clinic at a school now housed in a custodial closet into a space that will have two exam rooms and include room for dental care and mental health services, Ms. Wakefield said. Some school districts received awards to expand or build health care centers, but most grants were for health care providers.

Altogether, the grants awarded this year will provide access to care to about a half-million additional students.

Joy Grady, executive director of the Wilmington Health Access for Teens, in North Carolina, said the $382,275 grant awarded to her agency will be used to buy new equipment. The agency has three locations that provide physicals, nutritional counseling, care for colds and flu, pregnancy tests, and sex education, among other services.

But it is still using some of the equipment it has had since it was created in 1997.

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