EMC Health Foundation (EMCHF) is partnering with Hazel Health, the national leader in school-based healthcare, to fund a new program that ensures access to primary care and behavioral health services for two California public school districts at no cost.

“The EMC Health Foundation grants are specifically targeted to support the telebehavioral health programs,” said Jeffrey Lewis, President and CEO at EMC Health Foundation. “In a COVID-19 environment, we know children and adolescents are suffering. Providing them immediate access to telebehavioral health services will help children, parents, and school leaders address the root cause and keep the child in school. Without private-sector creativity and entrepreneurism like Hazel Health, rural California and America will continue to be overlooked.”

Servicing students in Stanislaus County, the one-year pilot program will be implemented in Denair and Hughson Unified School Districts, which were selected for their rural geographical locations and diverse populations. The program seeks to meet the growing need for accessible mental health care and set an example for other districts interested in implementing a similar program.

The success of the program will be evaluated based on various factors, including improving healthcare services, generally, behavioral health, and reducing emergency room visits and absenteeism.

In an annual survey given to students and teachers in Merced and Stanislaus counties, more than 25 percent of seventh-grade students report depression-related feelings that impact their learning and home life. By 9th grade, that number increases to more than 31 percent in both counties. At the end of high school, that number jumps to almost 40 percent of students.

“Doing nothing is not an option now or ever,” Lewis added. “ Partnering with Hazel Health is the first of many steps we will take as a foundation in helping ensure that our communities have access to mental health services.”

Both located in Stanislaus County, Denair Unified School District has five public schools serving roughly 1,270 students, and Hughson has five public schools serving approximately 2,100 students.

“We are very grateful for this new partnership with EMCHF and Hazel Health,” said Dr. Terry Metzger, Superintendent at Denair Unified School District. “Attending to our students’ physical and mental health needs has never been as important as it is today. These services will help us address concerns early, so students stay engaged in school, and the virtual platform is particularly beneficial for our families who do not have easy access to transportation.”

“Hazel Health is community-focused; our goal is to keep students healthier by providing a healthcare resource that’s woven into the fabric of school and district communities,” said Josh Golomb, CEO at Hazel Health. “Reliable access to healthcare often translates to a significant decrease in student absences, meaning students have more opportunities to learn and grow.”

Hazel Health actively partners with insurance companies and state Medicaid programs to fund programs. “These partners support our mission to improve access to health, reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, and improve key health outcomes.

“To succeed in what is often a tight-knit school environment, companies like Hazel Health have to find a way to be part of the community,” Golomb explained. “In some cases, that means emphasizing the word ‘telehealth’ or ‘telemedicine’, and focusing on community-based healthcare or connected health services. We’re not setting things up so that we have a group of people who pop in for a half-hour a day, we’re creating a community health resource that’s part of the fabric of that community.”

About EMC Health Foundation (EMCHF)

EMC Health Foundation was created to promote and expand care for people living within our community. EMC Health Foundation hopes to address their spiritual, physical, and psychosocial health.

About the Author:

eSchool News Staff