A state grant of $772,000 has been awarded to support the health clinic that opened two years ago within Malabar Intermediate School.
The funding is part of a $25.9 million package Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced for 136 new or expanded school-based health centers throughout Ohio.
"Studies have shown that health and wellness are interconnected," DeWine said in a news release. "A student who is not healthy or who is chronically absent is not able to achieve their full potential. These partnerships between health-care providers and schools support the whole child and ensure that every child may realize their full potential."
Clinic has been 'extremely helpful'
The clinic at Malabar opened in November of 2019 thanks to a $600,000 state school quality improvement grant. It has been a partnership between the school district and Third Street Family Health Services.
"It's very successful," Tom Hager, the school's principal, told the News Journal. "It has been extremely helpful to us."
He said nearly 200 students along with their families and all of the school's staff have used the clinic since it opened.
"We've given out shots, we've given out boosters," Hager said. "We're doing physicals."
Staff at the clinic have even helped students obtain food, clothing and shelter over the last two years as those needs have arisen.
Teachers have used the clinic for basic appointments and to obtain routine prescriptions, which the principal said has reduced the amount of time they needed to spend away from the classroom.
"Anything we can do to help the kids," Hager said. "They need all of the resources they can get."
Expanded services throughout district
The new grant will allow the clinic to expand its service to students, staff and parents throughout the Mansfield City School District, according to Peggy Anderson, CEO of Third Street.
The grant is expected to fund the clinic for about a year, as well as provide expansion and upgrades.
"The grant will cover cost of renovation of the space, portable dental equipment, telehealth, community engagement, and staff time," Anderson said. "We will be creating and implementing a parent and student and community engagement plan to make sure we provide the types of services needed in the community."
The grant is expected to allow the clinic to add two full-time employees to what Anderson called 4½ full-time employees who already work there.
"Once we get the notice, we’ll start posting for positions," Anderson said.
Counseling for COVID-19 trauma
Things changed a little bit for students just a couple of months after the clinic first opened at Malabar — the children became exposed to a global pandemic.
The onset of COVID-19 in the students' lives affected their academic performance, their principal said. Fortunately, Malabar had a counselor on hand to help them address that new and unexpected trauma.
"It's such a need with kids going through so much going through the pandemic," Hager said. "It has increased our count of students who need that. It's quadrupled I think."
The hope now is that the new grant will allow the clinic to bring additional counseling services to the school district to help the students with lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as all of the other things happening in their lives.
"That would be very beneficial for trauma," Hager said. "We're really excited about it."