Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell and the community in announcing a new school-based health center at John B. Drake Elementary School which will serve approximately 400 students on-site and students attending schools in the area. This new state-of-the-art school-based health center is funded in part by revenue from the new e-cigarette tax championed by Mayor Emanuel and passed by City Council. The announcement follows on a commitment by the city to direct new revenue to expand school-based health services to reach students, families and the community through five school centers by the end of 2019.
“From passing a series of reforms to curb youth smoking, to increasing access to health care for children and families citywide, we are making investments that will help our kids across the city to grow up healthy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Using revenue derived from our tax on e-cigarettes allows us to double down on our commitment to our children’s health, funding new opportunities for families to access healthcare at no cost, and parents to get their children critical healthcare so that they can be successful in school.”
The city has committed $2 million in new revenue yielded by the tax on e-cigarettes to supporting the health of youth through the creation or expansion of five new school-based health centers by 2019. The e-cigarette tax, enacted in 2015, follows a series of commitments and innovative policies enacted by the administration to protect youth from the harms of tobacco.
The new and improved school-based health center at Drake will serve approximately 400 students from Drake and approximately 20 surrounding schools in the Bronzeville area each year. Overall, through the expansion of the proven school-based health center model at five new or expanded sites will allow the city to reach more children and families with limited access to healthcare, and supporting these children in their education by addressing health-related barriers to academic success.
“As a doctor and a mother, I know that our children must be healthy before they can be successful in the classroom,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. “Health issues still stand today as one of the leading barriers to school attendance, which is why we work closely with CPS to ensure that all of our learners across the city have the care that they and their families need to achieve success in the classroom.”
CPS and CDPH partner with health care providers to bring essential health services to schools located in areas of greatest need, so that students receive the care they need to achieve academically at no out-of-pocket cost to their family. The city’s currently existing 32 school-based health centers provide students grades K-12 with quality and age-appropriate health care that students need to be healthy and to focus on learning. Services include but are not limited to: immunizations, physical exams, sports physicals, reproductive healthcare, behavioral healthcare, chronic condition management and acute care.
“As a former principal and teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that health issues can have on our children’s ability to learn,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice Jackson. “This new school health center will not only help our children and families to get the care they need to lead healthier lives, but will help remove health-related barriers so that our children can get the education they deserve.”
Each year CPS school-based health centers serve approximately 21,000 students and families with essential healthcare and exams at no-cost to them. In addition to the health benefits of these centers, a body of national research demonstrates academic benefits, too—with students accessing school-based health centers shown to have stronger school attendance rates, and a lower likelihood of tardiness and truancy.
"So much more goes into learning than just what happens in the classroom," said Alderman Dowell. "Wraparound service providers like UIC Mile Square - which offers excellent health care services to residents in my Ward and throughout the city - ensure that students are able to get the best out of their school experience. I am happy that Drake students and the students of 20 other neighboring schools will have access to this important resource, now on a full-time basis."
The new center at Drake, named the “Drake Health & Wellness Center” will outfit existing space at the school to operate essentially as a full-service primary care office, including the following: a total of four exam rooms, modern equipment, an ADA compliant bathroom and attached lab, build out of an external entrance for community residents, group meeting room, and an administrative office. In addition to bringing full-time school day health services to Drake and the surrounding community, the investment will provide youth with comprehensive primary care with a new focus on behavioral health services.
The city’s 33rd school-based health center will be completed in 2017, and Drake will continue offering care through its partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago and UI Health’s Mile Square Health Center this school year until the new facilities are open next school year. UI Health Mile Square has longstanding experience working with the community through its support of UI Health’s 12 Federally Qualified Health Centers—5 of which are school-based—and collectively serving 40,000 unique patients each year.
“UIC Mile Square is committed to improving health care access across the city, specifically for children and families who live in communities with little access,” said Dr. Cynthia Boyd., Senior Director Mile Square Health Center School Based Health Practice. “We are very proud to expand both our hours and our reach to the community, as well as the range of services we will provide to children, reflecting our core mission to provide quality care for all of the children and families we serve.”
Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has launched or expanded a number of programs and initiatives to help Chicago’s youth lead healthier lives. Since its launch in 2013, and with a $1.4 million investment from the city, CDPH’s school-based vision program has provided 64,011 pairs of glasses and 103,546 eye exams to students at no cost to their families. CDPH’s school-based oral health has provided dental exams to more than 100,000 students every year since 2011, and last year provided dental sealants to more than 58,000 students. Last year, CDPH entered into a new partnership to increase sexual health education and screening at 49 select schools with Planned Parenthood of Illinois and has since provided education and screening to 14,808 and 8,646 students, respectively.
Mayor Emanuel has also established Chicago as a national leader in youth tobacco prevention. In addition to passing the e-cigarette tax this past year, Chicago became one of the first cities in the nation to regulate e-cigarettes like traditional cigarettes in 2013, helping keep them out of the hands of youth. Mayor Emanuel also championed the ordinance that prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products from within 500 feet of a school. As a result of his leadership, Mayor Emanuel was named the Visionary Elected Leader by African American Tobacco Leadership Council. Today, Chicago has achieved record low rates of youth smoking.
# # #