‘Taking care of the whole person’: Shawnee Mission opens new school-based health center

Education

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Students in the Shawnee Mission School District now have a new option when it comes to getting medical care.

The district has partnered with Health Partnership Clinic to offer a weekly clinic at Shawnee Mission West High School. 

The clinic is open every Thursday that school is in session for in-person or virtual appointments from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Services are available for all students in the district and their siblings between the age of 3 and 20.

Dr. Cheri El-Halawany, a pediatrician in the clinic, said the goal of hosting a clinic inside the school building is to make healthcare more attainable for families.

“I think it’s really important to recognize the barriers that we have to healthcare.It’s not only just financial barriers, because I wouldn’t say that that’s the only one that’s in the community,” El-Halawany said.

“We also have barriers with regards to time. Parents taking time off work to be able to take their children to a physical or patients needing to take time off of school and how many excused absences they can have.” 

SMSD Health Services Director Shelby Rebeck said the school will work with families to overcome barriers to healthcare like a lack of insurance, lack of transportation, language barriers or scheduling conflicts.

“Health Partnership Clinic takes a lot of different insurances including KanCare, Medicaid, things like that. They will also help families enroll in Medicaid or Marketplace. Even if families are uninsured or underinsured, Health Partnership Clinic will still see them as a patient,” Rebeck said. 

For the last two years, the school-based clinic has been housed at Merriam Park Elementary, but has since outgrown the space. Health Partnership Clinic offers students services like annual physicals, lab tests, treatment for chronic illness and immunizations including the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“With COVID and just chronic disease management in and of itself is always difficult for students and their families. So this means a lot to be able to have this access right here in their student’s school,” Rebeck said. 

Rebeck said more than a dozen students have visited the new clinic location so far.

The clinic is currently focused on students’ physical health, but El-Halawany said plans are in place to expand the clinic to include dental care and mental health services in the future. 

“We are taking care of the whole person, so that includes mental health. Especially with the stress of life now, but even before, it’s something that a lot of times is really difficult to access. I think all that is really important,” El-Halawany said. “The sooner you catch anything that somebody is struggling with, whether that’s a physical health ailment or mental health ailment, it helps them have a better life.” 

A full list of clinic services can be found on the Health Partnership Clinic website. Parents can make an appointment for their children through their student’s school nurse, or by calling the clinic at 913-648-2266.

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