Program Spotlight: MetroHealth School Health Program
Growing up, Marcus Germany, MD, always wanted to be a teacher.
A career as a physician would ultimately be his calling, but it’s fitting the Cleveland-area native sees patients steps away from their classrooms at Heights High School. It’s a more inviting environment than a typical clinic, Dr. Germany says – one where students are comfortable opening up about their physical and mental health.
“You get to see kids in their natural habitat,” says Dr. Germany, one of the caregivers from MetroHealth’s School Health Program, part of the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ “It also removes a barrier of access for so many kids. Many of them might not even see a doctor as often as they should if we weren’t at their school.”
Improving access – that’s the goal of the School Health Program, which now serves more than 20 schools in Northeast Ohio. The program also goes well beyond traditional medical care, which is the heart of the work of the Institute for H.O.P.E.™
The School Health Program team regularly connects students and their families with resources that can help with housing needs, utility assistance, food insecurity, transportation access, legal issues and more.
“Healthy students are stronger learners,” says Katie Davis, who oversees the School Health Program as Executive Director, Community & Corporate Health. “And so much of a child’s health depends on factors beyond traditional medical care, which is why we have resources embedded within our team to help families address those needs.”
One of those resources is Alvernese Ford, a Community Health Worker with the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ who supports the School Health Program in a local Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school and various sites within the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.
Every day, she talks with families who would benefit from additional social supports.
A mother, for example, who lost her job and can’t afford her utility bills. A family whose living conditions exacerbate their child’s asthma. And so much more.
“If your kids are at home without electricity, heat or food, they’re not going to be able to learn at school,” Ford says. “Being able to be in a position where I can actually help these families is really important to me.”
Others are taking notice of MetroHealth’s creative approach.
Last summer, America’s Essential Hospitals honored the School Health Program with the prestigious Gage Award. The annual award recognizes “creative and successful programs that improve patient care and serve community needs.”
Also, the state of Ohio awarded the School Health Program nearly $4.5 million to support the expansion of its work. MetroHealth’s program was the largest single recipient among the $25.9 million awarded for 136 new or expanded school-based health Centers throughout Ohio.
This story appeared in the latest quarterly update from the Institute for H.O.P.E., which you can read here.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.