5 School Hospitals Closed in Brooklyn – Chalkbeat New York | Gmx Pharm

Five school-based health clinics serving 10 Brooklyn schools were closed last month due to budget constraints, according to a letter from operator SUNY Downstate.

Now families are rallying to try to save the facilities.

City officials were “disappointed” with SUNY Downstate’s move to close clinics on July 1, but said they will ensure the five campuses have school nurses by September. Families remain concerned about the health care gap in their community. More than 8,500 have joined a campaign calling on SUNY Downstate to keep clinics open at least long enough to partner with another hospital.

The clinics provide a higher level of care than a traditional school nurse. Your pediatric nurses and medical assistants can administer medication and issue prescriptions. They offer vaccinations, blood tests and other preventive or urgent care that children would normally receive in a pediatrician’s office. They also offer youth health education and contraception, as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases – helpful services for youth who may not wish to discuss such issues with a family doctor. They also provide psychiatric care and substance abuse treatment.

Benefits are offered free of charge regardless of insurance status and are a lifeline to their children’s health care for many parents who cannot take time off work to see a doctor.

“These clinics are just like having a doctor’s office in your school building,” said Reyhan Mehran, whose daughter attends the Brooklyn Collaborative, a middle and high school that shares the Carroll Gardens building — and the clinic — with the Brooklyn New school shares. “After everything the children in this city have been through with the pandemic, there is a great need for these services right now. Having these clinics in our public schools has always been invaluable, but now they are even more so.”

Brooklyn Collaborative principal Scill Chan and Brooklyn New School’s Diane Castelucci described their clinic as an “essential part” of their school communities.

“The abrupt closure of the clinics that have been helping thousands of young people in our schools is shocking and we must work together to find the funding needed to keep these vital services open,” the school leaders said in a statement.

SUNY Downstate officials said they have been working with state and local partners to ensure “a smooth transition” from the medical center that runs the clinics.

“Due to the expansion of health insurance and other supports, the same level of care will be available to all children in the community,” SUNY Downstate said in a statement.

A group of eight nurses, social workers and other health professionals who staffed the clinics wrote a letter to the superintendents and principals condemning the closures, pointing the finger at SUNY Downstate for mismanagement and a potential gap in care for students warned.

“The abrupt announcement of the closure is shocking, irresponsible and wrong as it forfeits opportunities to solve problems and leaves our communities with a huge unmet need,” they wrote.

SUNY Downstate declined to comment further on the financial drain leading to the closures.

The medical center took over four of the clinics from the now-defunct Long Island College Hospital, or LICH, more than a decade ago after parents spoke out in favor of keeping the clinics open. These four clinics were on the chopping block in 2017 due to government budget cuts, but were bailed out after public outcry.

Across the five boroughs, students at nearly 390 schools have access to on-campus clinics run by various health organizations. They have been shown to reduce absenteeism and reduce the likelihood of hospital visits. The city has relied on the model for its community schools, which provide comprehensive services to students in low-income neighborhoods.

The school’s health clinic has become “her daughter’s home away from home,” said Cherlece Acosta, pictured here with her daughter. “The nurse there was on top. She really cared.”

Courtesy of Cherlece Acosta

They also help kids manage chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma, which is why Cherlece Acosta worked tirelessly to get her daughter – who has both conditions – into Park Slopes MS 51.

Acosta’s daughter, who graduated from middle school this year, made frequent trips to the school’s health clinic, one of five that SUNY Downstate had closed. Sometimes her daughter needed help with an insulin pump failure, or if her blood sugar got too low, she could become disoriented, the mother said.

PS 38 mom Jelena Vojvodic, parent of a third grader with a severe peanut allergy, felt reassured at the on-site clinic operated by SUNY Downstate. The clinic’s nurse helped raise awareness at the school about food allergies and COVID, she said.

Sarah Thomas, whose children attend Brooklyn New School, said the school-based clinic has been a big help with her son’s “emotional issues.” His therapist and nurse helped calm him down when needed.

“We are in the middle of a psychological crisis,” said Thomas. “If anything, there should be more money to get the help kids need.”

She was also able to have her son’s routine check-ups done at the clinic, which saved her long waits at her pediatrician’s office.

Officials at the city’s Health and Education Departments did not say whether another operator would take over the clinics, but said in a statement: “For now, the city will be placing school nurses in each of the affected buildings from September to ensure families are connected to the care.” .”

New York schools have long struggled with a shortage of school nurses. According to figures from the United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teachers’ union, there were 579 vacancies for permanent school nurses in June.

Amy Zimmer is Chalkbeat New York Office Manager. Contact Amy at azimmer@chalkbeat.org.

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