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Chicago Tribune: "Student health in new hands"

April 4, 2004 -- Today the Chicago Tribune ran a substantial article by James Janega about the apparent trend in some states toward the use of "school-based health centers" rather than traditional school nurses, particularly in disadvantaged urban areas.

The story focuses on one outsourced health center at a Chicago high school serving a community of low-income and immigrant families with limited or no other care options. It describes the work of the center's nurse practitioner Sarah Lau, whose days involve tasks such as care for asthmatics, preventative care for tuberculosis, birth control and prenatal care. The health centers, apparently staffed by nurse practitioners, mental health clinicians, and physicians, reportedly offer access to a wider variety of diagnoses and treatments than have traditionally been available in school settings. Mental health is also a key practice area, including treatment for depression, anxiety, abuse, sexual assault, and drug and alcohol problems. The article is devoted mostly to the positive aspects of such centers, though it does note that because of the diversity of funding sources--including state and federal grants, private donations, and the outside agencies that run the centers--each center's existence can be "precarious." The article might have explored whether the growth in use of such centers had any other drawbacks or critics, and whether any effort had been made to compare the centers to traditional school nurses' offices. Most fundamentally, the piece might have sought comment from the school nurses themselves.

See James Janega's article "Student health in new hands: Centers replace the school nurse" in the April 4, 2004 edition of the Chicago Tribune.


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