The first Harris County Hospital District (now the Harris Health System) School-Based Clinic was established at Jackson Middle School in 1994 with the help of a grant from the Texas Department of Health. In 1995, the Harris County Hospital District Board of Managers approved a district-wide health promotion program called the "Make a Difference Program". This program would bring preventative and early detection services closer to those who would utilize them. The school-based clinics were recognized as an integral part of this project for improving the health status of our community's children.
Today, the Harris Health System continues to operate eight permanent school-based clinics in conjunction with six independent school districts: Houston ISD, Channelview ISD, Galena Park ISD, North Forest ISD, Deer Park ISD and Sheldon ISD. The clinics include:
- Robert Carrasco Health Clinic at Marshall Middle School (opened 1995 at Sherman Elementary, but relocated to Marshall in March 2006); Houston ISD
- Smiley Health Clinic (opened 1995); North Forest ISD
- Patrick Henry Health Clinic (formerly opened in 1996 at Scarborough Elementary, but relocated to Patrick Henry Middle School in July 2003); Houston ISD
- Jerry Neal Health Clinic at Channelview Annex Campus (opened 1997); Channelview ISD
- Almatha Clark Taylor Clinic at Cloverleaf Elementary School (opened 1998); Galena Park ISD
- Southside School-Based Health Clinic (formerly known as Nuestra Clinica, it was located at Jackson Middle School but closed in August 2003 and relocated in March 2004); Galena Park ISD
- Deepwater Clinic (opened February 2005); Deer Park ISD
- Sheldon Clinic (opened October 2006); Sheldon ISD
Each school-based clinic is linked with a Harris Health System Community Health Center and is staffed with an advanced practice nurse, a licensed vocational nurse and a clinical clerical specialist. A specially trained registered nurse provides well child evaluations at Almatha Clark Taylor, Southside and Patrick Henry Health Clinics. Community outreach eligibility workers go to each clinic on a once weekly or twice monthly schedule in order to screen and provide Harris Health System Gold Cards to patients and their qualified immediate families. The program is overseen by a faculty pediatrician of the Baylor Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Services provided by the school-based clinics include Texas Health Steps Well Child Exams, family education, evaluation and treatment of minor acute and chronic health problems, referrals to secondary and tertiary treatment centers, basic laboratory procedures, vision/hearing screening, appropriate referral for outside services and immunizations. Each school-based clinic has a Class D pharmacy, which allows for the provision of medications.
In March 2003, the Harris Health System Mobile Health Program was combined with the School-Based Clinics Program. The Harris Health System Mobile Health unit provides vaccinations to children in most Harris County Independent School Districts.
The program expanded services in November 2005 to include behavioral health care at Southside Health Clinic. A behavioral health specialist is on site five days a week and a psychiatrist one day a week. Services at the clinic include evaluation and assessment, psychiatric therapy, individual and group counseling, family counseling, treatment for alcohol and drug abuse and referrals for more intensive treatment, as needed. An InSight specialist rotates between two school-based clinics, providing free alcohol, drug and tobacco screening and brief intervention to adolescents. Mental health services were added to Patrick Henry School-Based Clinic in the summer of 2006.
Clinic services are available to the pediatric population of Harris County. The School-Based Clinic Program operates Monday through Friday, during daytime hours. Clinics are open year round, thus providing a medical home for the community's children.
For more information, see School-Based Clinics.