The Health Department of Northwest Michigan operates two student health clinics with state grants, in partnership with Mancelona Public Schools and Pellston Public Schools. Both provide primary care services on the school campus for free to area youth—they do not have to attend the school to use the clinic.
MESH, the first long-term statewide study of the impact of Child and Adolescent Health Centers on the health and health behaviors of children and youth in Michigan, was conducted in partnership with Michigan State University, University Outreach and Engagement.
"Students learn better and achieve more when they are in an environment that assures them a place to go to check on their physical and mental well-being," said Pat Fralick, Director of Family & Community Health for the Health Department.
"If children are hurting physically or emotionally, it's difficult for them to focus on school," said Bill Tebbe, Superintendent of Pellston Public Schools. "School-based health centers fill the health care gap that many students need to address those barriers to learning."
The findings from this study indicate that child and adolescent health centers are associated with a wide range of health benefits. Their presence is associated with health benefits for the entire student population, such as less physical discomfort, less emotional discomfort, higher self-esteem, engaging in fewer individual risks, fewer threats to achievement, and fewer negative peer influences.
In addition, students who used health centers expressed benefits such as greater satisfaction with health, greater self-esteem, less physical discomfort, engaging in more physical activity, eating healthier foods, greater family involvement, and more active social problem-solving skills.
These findings suggest that child and adolescent health centers are an essential component within the school environment that support student health, thereby promoting better learning and increasing academic performance. Positive impacts were seen in schools with health centers, whether students directly use health clinic services or not.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information about the Hornet Health Center in Pellston or the Ironmen Health Center in Mancelona, contact Erika Van Dam, Family & Community Health Supervisor, at 231-347-6014.