School-Based Health Center to be built on Springfield High School campus

Beginning in just a few short weeks, the movement of students in the Springfield High School hallways will be joined by the echoes of construction workers swinging hammers, drilling with high-powered machinery and building new opportunities as construction on the new School-Based Health Center at Springfield High begins.

As the sounds of what’s to come fill the air over winter break, it marks the beginning of a new chapter for not only SHS, but also the Springfield City School District and the Springfield community. This change not only enhances the physical environment, but speaks to a greater commitment to the holistic development and care of students.

The SBHC will provide SCSD students, their families and the greater Springfield community with access to healthcare at an unprecedented level when it opens in time for the 2024-2025 school year. Rocking Horse Community Health Center will operate the health center.

The almost $2 million dollar clinic will initially offer a variety of services, including primary care, vaccinations, health screenings, mental health counseling and patient resource assistance. The Health Center is also designed to accommodate dental and vision services in the future.

The project has gained critical financial support from the Federal Government's Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the City of Springfield, Community Health Foundation, the Crabill Family Foundation, Wilson Sheehan Foundation, Greg and Alicia Hupp and John Legend.

The Health Center will be located at Springfield High School on the lower level of the building, on the side near the athletic stadium. High school students will be able to access the Health Center from inside the school, while others will enter through a new entrance at the back of the school.

The high school location was chosen because more than 30 percent of the District’s student body attends school in the proximity of Simon Kenton Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School and SHS.

In 2021, the SCSD unveiled its Strategic Plan (2022-2025), which pointed to ‘Access to Care’ as a primary concern among Springfield parents and community members who had been surveyed.

SBHCs are an evidence-based model shown to improve both health and educational outcomes, including reduced student absenteeism, decreased suspensions and improved graduation rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The District continually seeks to find innovative ways to improve its overall student academic performance and is optimistic about the long-term effects of the SBHC.

Many children in Springfield do not receive the proper care for their basic health needs. Whether the reason is lack of transportation, inability for parents to leave work, inconvenient clinic hours or a family’s financial instability, the result can be a child struggling with a pain or illness that keeps them from school or a child bringing sickness to school and spreading it to other children.

The Health Center at Springfield High aims to meet families where they are and provide critical healthcare to children where they spend a majority of their day – at school.

SBHCs are an additional health resource for schools. They do not replace the important role of school nurses or school clinics.

Rocking Horse is expected to provide a nurse practitioner, mental health therapists, community outreach specialists and administrative staff. This team will work closely with Springfield City School District's school nurses to make sure patients are seen by the appropriate clinical staff as quickly as possible.

The success stories from other SBHCs from around the country boast more than just the number of doctor’s visits, immunizations performed or patients seen.

In Connecticut, a health center started a nutrition program for students that helped an eighth grader lose nearly 75 pounds. In New York, a SBHC caught a tuberculosis diagnosis for a junior high student – and his entire family. And in Louisiana, a SBHC nurse connected a high school student with a community dentist for an emergency root canal that he would not have otherwise been able to afford.

The results can truly be life changing.

Springfield City Schools are looking forward to what its own success stories will look like and changing the lives of students as the first swing of the hammer draws closer. Knowing, eventually the rumbles of the backhoes will fade and the low murmurs so familiar to a doctor’s office will settle in – keyboards clicking, phones ringing and peace of mind because students lives were as made better because of the Health Center’s existence.
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