Community Partnership Creates New Health Center at Normandy High School
Normandy High School is home to the newest school-based health center in the St. Louis area.
The health center began serving students Thursday, August 10 and will be available to Normandy Schools Collaborative students and staff. Private insurance and Medicaid will be accepted; students will not be turned away due to an inability to pay. Initially the health center will operate on Mondays and Thursdays.
The center is the result of a partnership between St. Louis organizations in the fields of education, health, youth development and social work. The center aims to increase access to primary and behavioral health care in the Normandy schools community, improve student attendance and academic achievement, and help students improve their health and wellness.
"We are incredibly excited about the short- and long-term benefits of this project,” said Charles Pearson, superintendent of the Normandy Schools Collaborative. “Research has shown that young people are less likely to miss school due to illness when they have access to affordable healthcare options. We hope that with a resource like this conveniently located on one of our campuses, our families get needed health services, but also eliminate a barrier that can keep some students out of school. This collaboration can have a direct, positive impact on the entire community.”
Partners in the collaboration are:
Affinia Healthcare, a federally qualified community health center, which will be operating the health center located at Normandy High. Affinia Healthcare (formerly Grace Hill Health Centers) provides affordable primary and preventive health care services to residents of St. Louis and surrounding areas. This nonprofit has operated in St. Louis since 1906.
BJC HealthCare, the area’s largest health care provider, is providing in-kind donations to the clinic, including furnishings and medical supplies.
For the Sake of All, the groundbreaking, multidisciplinary project on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. Beginning in 2016, For the Sake of All formed a workgroup to facilitate key partnerships among the education and health sectors. The group is working to increase sustainable school-based health centers in the region. For the Sake of All further conducted a needs assessment to inform the planning and design of the school-based health center at Normandy High School.
Normandy Schools Collaborative, the public school district for 23 communities in north St. Louis County serving more than 3,200 students in preschool through grade 12.
Wyman, which seeks to empower teens from economically disadvantaged circumstances to lead successful lives and build strong communities. Wyman worked alongside the Normandy Schools Collaborative this year to develop a system-wide solution to align more than 20 partners serving the district to help the Collaborative achieve better outcomes, with greater efficiency, for students and the community. A result of this work is the introduction and strategic alliance between the partners involved in the new health center.
“Our organization is extremely delighted to participate in this important initiative, operating a health center that helps serve the primary care needs of students and others who seek our services,” said Alan Freeman, president and CEO of Affinia Healthcare.
There are more than 2,300 school-based health centers in the United States. They provide behavioral, mental and physical health services and have been proven to increase access to health care and improve health care costs, health outcomes and academic outcomes.
With the addition of Normandy, there are now three school-based health centers operating in high schools in the St. Louis region. Creating more sustainable school-based health centers remains a key objective in For the Sake of All’s recommendations to solve health inequities among African Americans in St. Louis.
“Our first step in launching the project included a critical needs assessment among the members of the community to help determine which services the health center will provide,” said Jason Purnell, associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and director of For the Sake of All. “We found students and families have significant barriers to health care and numerous health and behavioral health needs. There was overwhelming support among students, staff, and parents to provide consistent, accessible health care services within the high school.”
“At Wyman, we believe that every young person has the potential to succeed and lead, regardless of life circumstances,” said Claire Wyneken, Wyman’s president and CEO. “With such committed and expert partners at the table, we’re laying a foundation that will create equitable opportunities for youth to succeed.”
Normandy Schools Collaborative enrolls about 3,200 students annually and draws from 23 different municipalities in the 63121 and 63133 zip codes. Nearly half of the area’s youth, 48 percent, live in poverty, almost three times the youth poverty rate in St. Louis County.