CHIPPEWA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - February is National School-Based Health Center Awareness Month.
The Sault Health Adolescent Care Center (SHACC), which is located in the Sault Area High School, room 622 has been serving students from Sault Area High School and Career Center, Malcolm High and Sault Middle School since 2005.
The SHACC is a program operated by the Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD) and supported with funds made available through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Since opening its doors, more than 28,000 services have been provided to over 9,500 students. Service delivery is provided by a Nurse Practitioner, Behavioral Health Professionals, Health Educators, Clerical and Outreach staff.
A full range of services is provided on site, including health care for chronic and acute disorders, comprehensive physicals, immunizations, mental health, substance abuse counseling and education regarding tobacco, vape, marijuana and alcohol use as well as nutrition counseling.
Eligible students are those that are enrolled in Sault High, Malcolm High or Sault Middle school as well as those students travelling from other schools in Chippewa County to participate in a program offered through these schools. Medicaid is accepted at the SHACC, as are other insurances.
The SHACC brings access to health care right to where the students are: school. In the midst of education reform, staff is working to promote healthy students and improve their educational outcomes. Because the SHACC is located on the school campus, students develop relationships with staff and feel comfortable talking about their problems; in addition, those families that struggle with transportation are able to access health care right in their school.
According to Cara Haapapuro, the SHACC’s Family Nurse Practitioner, “I think school-based health centers like the SHACC are important to communities like the Sault because they offer students medical and counseling services while at school. This saves parents from having to take time off work and pull their child out of school for appointments.
I would estimate that about 90% of the time I am able to diagnose and treat a student without having to send them home. I am able to collaborate with my colleagues from the Chippewa County Health Department as well as administration and staff at Sault schools and from Weber and Devers Psychological Services to offer a wide variety of services to our students. These types of services were not available when I was in school and it is great to have for students today.”
Jessica Rondeau, Principal of Sault Area Middle School agrees and states, “Having our SHACC means a great deal to our SAMS students and families. It means that we have additional support for students in as many ways possible to ensure that our students are healthy.
One of our priorities is wellness at Sault Schools. I cannot think of a more appropriate partnership than the one we have with our SHACC to support this priority!”
Students play a vital role in the success of the SHACC, not only by being recipients of services, but by promoting the center and playing a part in service delivery.
An active Student Advisory Council provides information and education to fellow students in a variety of ways, including hosting an annual health fair geared towards sixth grade students.
School-based health centers (SBHCs) offer high-quality, affordable health and mental health care as well as health education and preventative services to school-aged children. In 2018, over 36,000 children and adolescents received care in Michigan’s SBHCs.
Studies show that SBHCs help to reduce absenteeism, tardiness and behavioral problems in students, and help to promote learning. Healthy kids are better learners! The SHACC serves more than 800 students each year and by the time they graduate from Sault High, 90% of Sault Area Public School students have
received at least one service from the SHACC.
For more information regarding the Sault Health Adolescent Care Center, please contact Karen Senkus at (906) 253-3103 or visit www.chippewahd.com/shacc
More information about school-based health centers and SBHC Awareness Month is available online on the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan’s website: www.scha-mi.org .