30 Aug 2021
Smart Health Clinic
Students in some Providence Public Schools no longer have to leave school or stay home from school when they are not feeling well or need medical attention. They now have access to on-site health clinics right inside their school. The SMART Clinic model, a nationally recognized, in-house health clinic designed boost academic achievement, has been brought to two Providence schools, with a third, supported by Papitto Opportunity Connection, scheduled to open during the 2021-2022 school year.
The proactive model’s goal is to identify and break down barriers to classroom success, especially for students from low-income families who may be missing school or not reaching their potential due to undiagnosed or unmanaged health issues.
The Papitto Opportunity Connection is among the organizations supporting this initiative to bring healthcare directly into the urban schools.
“With students and teachers returning to school, some for the first time in more than a year, the SMART Model’s capacity to positively impact health and academics is more imperative now than ever. The support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection will allow us to expand our services in Providence and ensure wellness for a greater number of students, families, and staff members in schools with the greatest need,” said Melanie Ginn, architect of the SMART Model.
“Providing healthcare for students and their families right in the schools is a much-needed resource and can be a powerful change in the Providence community,” said Dr. Saima Chaudhry, M.D, a board-certified neurologist at Rhode Island Hospital and Papitto Opportunity Connection advisory board member. “Making healthcare for students a priority can make a real difference not only for students, but their families as well.”
A nationally proven model, the SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching all Transforming Lives) Clinic is designed to enhance the mental and physical health of individuals in a school community. The SMART Clinic teams work with school leaders and teachers to support students on an individual level so can thrive in the classroom. By addressing the health issues of all students in-house, the students can focus on their education without missing school. The result is academic success.
Soon, several hundred more Providence students and their families will have access to in-house treatment when a SMART Clinic opens in one of the city’s elementary schools.
The SMART Clinics are each staffed with a team of at least five professionals from the Providence Community Health Centers, led by a licensed medical provider, who can diagnose, treat and prescribe in real time, onsite.
The team also includes a behavioral health provider. The clinics provide preventive care and medical treatment, as well as behavioral health care, for all students and staff in the school. The initiative has been running in schools in Chicago and Alabama for several years, allowing SMART to consistently reach 95-100 percent of students in each school building, delivering improved health outcomes and attendance and thus increasing academic performance.
Students are not the only ones who benefit from the clinics. SMART Clinics treat all students in the building, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, in addition to their family members, and the school’s teachers and staff. In short, it is a game changer for the entire school community.