SA school system shuttling students to doctor’s appointments without counting them absent

The COVID-19 pandemic has furthered health issues, both physical and mental for families as a whole.

Children need extra care, but many parents have used up their time off caring for kids, or getting sick themselves. A lot of those parents are having to decide between taking kids to doctor’s appointments or missing work without pay.

That’s why the Jubilee Academies charter school system in San Antonio is stepping in.

Valerie Guzman has four kids at the Jubilee campus where she works as a health assistant.

“I’ve missed about, let’s say, two weeks during the COVID period. You know, it’s kind of hard to miss,” Guzman said.

That’s why she was thrilled to hear about the school’s new partnership with University Health System’s Teen Clinic at the Robert B. Greene center. It’s a public, one-stop shop for ages 10-24.

The students who sign up for the program at Jubilee leave school together, hop on a bus with a chaperone, and head to the clinic for their individual appointments. When they get back to school, they head straight back to class and are never counted absent.

“My son needed a physical and I put him on the list right away for that paperwork, and he was at his appointment the very next day,” Guzman said.

The appointments are on Mondays and Wednesdays and are for both physical and mental health.

“We identified the behavioral health needs where needed. So we hired a counselor to be able to refer to them, because we saw a high rise, especially during the COVID pandemic, with anxiety and depression,” said Diana Gonzalez, University Health System’s executive director of women’s health.

Gonzalez said every child who goes to the teen clinic is assessed for mental health.

“We are specifically trained to be able to ask the appropriate questions because they feel this is a trusted space. It’s a welcoming environment for these teenagers,” she said. “We work with the school nurses, the school counselors, the teachers and we all work together as a multidisciplinary need to take care of these, these teenagers.”

The clinic providers don’t just make mental health referrals.

“We have so many children with diabetes or more serious illnesses, they refer out to a clinic that is there at Robert B. Greene,” said Jubilee Student Services Director Diana Centeno.

The clinic emphasizes wrap-around services, including financial.

“Some of them don’t even have health care coverage or they don’t know how to obtain that. So we help them also with financial assistance and with any type of health care coverage, if needed,” Gonzalez said.

Centeno said there is also an pharmacy in the clinic. Prescriptions are filled and given to the chaperone. The chaperone then brings the medications to campus, gives them to the health assistant or the nurse, who then gives them to the parent.

Thirty students have already been signed up since the program started about two weeks ago, and they expect that number to rise quickly.