Children and teens in rural areas often face barriers, such as travel time, when accessing healthcare, whether they’re sick or seeking preventive treatment. In Lincoln County, School Based Health Clinics (SBHCs) have helped address these obstacles. But a few years ago, as mental health needs for rural youth increased and then the COVID pandemic took hold, Dr. Andy Russ, a provider with Lincoln Health, felt the students would benefit from a more collaborative effort between the clinics and community health leaders. He envisioned a multidisciplinary team that would ensure everyone is working with the same best practices, same goals and same support system, so the kids would get the best possible care. The result of this thinking is the School and Community Health Advisory Council (SCHAC).
The SCHAC has brought together the SBHC clinicians with Lincoln Medical leadership to identify gaps in services, share best practices, problem solve, develop centralized communications, and review school-related health policies and emergency plans. The SCHAC has advocated for a social worker in each SBHC to support kids with behavioral and emotional health needs. These changes have resulted in a robust, accessible healthcare community for the area’s youth that connects families with programs like MaineCare and Care Partners to support better overall healthcare access. In the last year, the clinics saw more than 2,000 visits, including a high percentage of behavioral health visits.
LincolnHealth, which services rural communities in mid-coast Maine, supports School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) in three local schools: Medomak Valley High School, Boothbay Regional High School and Lincoln Academy. SBHCs are a safe and patient centered care option that ensures kids are getting the health care they need in a place that’s easily accessible. Until recently, the SBHCs operated independently. Led by Dr. Russ and other LincolnHealth and community health leaders, the SCHAC aims to improve the overall physical and emotional health of students and staff of local, public and private schools, and organizations serving youth in the community.
The SCHAC is now seeking new opportunities and funding to create more health centers and continue serving the health care needs of Maine’s rural youth. There are plans for a new SBHC in Morse High School in Sagadahoc. Additionally, the SCHAC hopes to expand dental care to all clinics, so students can access on-site dental hygiene cleanings and evaluations.
Parents in the LincolnHealth area can register their child for school-based care or make appointment online.
The School and Community Health Advisory Council makes connections and provides support for School Based Health Clinics, so that kids in rural Maine are getting the best possible health care where it’s most accessible.
“The School Based Health Center is much more than a place for students to come and get bandages or cough drops. The health center is staffed with a level of professional care that allows for confidential diagnosis and direct medical care that some students have very little access to due to varying home and life barriers.”
– Jacob Abbott, Dean of Students, Lincoln Academy
Original SCHAC Team Members
Stacey Miller, VP of Physician Services, LMP
Dr. Andy Russ, VP of Medical Affairs and Medical Director of SBHCs, LMP
Lisa Bowers, Director of Lincoln Medical Partners
Elsa Parson, Clinical Nurse Manager, LMP
Carol McClure, SBHC Practice Manager, LMP
Derilyn Gregory, School Nurse Coordinator, LMP
Dr. Cindy Dechenes, Medical Director of Boothbay SBHC, LMP
Anne Barker, Nurse Practitioner Boothbay SBHC, LMP
Stephanie Field, Program Manager Behavioral Health Integration, MBH
Anni Pat McKenney, Director of Coulombe Center for Health Improvement