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Ready to learn: REL Midwest public television documentary examines effective models of school-based health care

Documentary examines effective school-based health

By Laura Checovich
April 8, 2020

Healthy students are more likely to attend school, earn better grades, and graduate from high school. However, many students have trouble accessing even the most basic health care. In Ohio, several agencies are working to increase access to school-based health care for students. Our partners at the Ohio Department of Education and Nationwide Children’s Hospital approached us about creating a documentary to highlight these efforts and the research supporting school-based health care.

Showcasing school-based health care in Ohio

In 2019, the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest collaborated with WVIZ/PBS ideastream to produce Healthy Students = Strong Learners. This half-hour documentary looks at school-based health care programs operating across Ohio and the evidence linking students’ access to health care to improved academic outcomes. Researchers, policy experts, and practitioners from around the state discuss the research on school-based health care, with a focus on practices and policy considerations important to making an effective school-based health care system work. The documentary features Ohio districts that are implementing school-based health care models as well as interviews with district and health care professionals. Programs highlighted include the MetroHealth mobile clinic and dental clinics at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital program in Columbus, the Holzer Family Medical Clinic at the Alexander Local School District in Albany, and the Primary Health Solutions clinic affiliated with the Hamilton City School District.

Engaging the community in a conversation on school-based health care

In addition to airing the documentary on WVIZ/PBS ideastream, REL Midwest and its partners hosted a public screening at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, on February 7, 2020. The event drew nearly 100 attendees. After the screening, the audience heard from a panel, including Paolo DeMaria, Ohio superintendent of public instruction; Anna Miller, school-based health care coordinator at the Ohio Department of Education; Mary Kay Irwin, director of school health services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Dr. Talisa Dixon, superintendent of Columbus City Schools; Priya Gandhi, CPNP-PC affiliated with Nationwide Children’s Hospital; and Seaonya Penn, a parent in Columbus City Schools. The panel discussed the impact of school-based health care in Columbus, district and state efforts to expand access to health care in school settings in Ohio, and the research supporting these programs.

Superintendent DeMaria noted: “When children come to school, the system is established to help support their acquisition of knowledge and learning, and yet, if there are things that are distracting that child, we’re not going to be successful.”

Attendees included staff from the Ohio Department of Education, the Health Policy Institutes of Ohio, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and school districts around the region. After the panel discussion, audience members and panelists engaged in a conversation about the ways that health care providers, districts, schools, and parents can collaborate to support programs like those featured in the documentary.

Although the documentary focuses on Ohio, the information and evidence shared offer important insights for individuals and groups outside the state. Be sure to check out the documentary and the companion viewing guide to host your own screening and continue the discussion on the connection between students’ access to health care and their academic outcomes

About REL Midwest public television documentaries

REL Midwest collaborates with public television stations to produce 30-minute documentaries that delve into education topics relevant to our region. These programs provide insights from research and experts in the field and amplify different voices and perspectives to support changes in practice. REL Midwest hosts public screenings of these programs to engage educators in discussions about the content of the documentaries, the implications for practice, and strategies to improve student outcomes.

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Author Information

Laura Checovich Staff Picture

Laura Checovich

Communications Associate | REL Midwest


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