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February is National School Based Health Care Awareness Month

Originally published: Feb. 12, 2013
Last modified: Feb. 12, 2013

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This February, communities across the nation will celebrate National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month.

School-based health centers are redefining health for kids and teens by providing access to mental health services and oral health care, working to prevent obesity and addressing other issues that affect young people’s lives.

SBHCs provide access to affordable, quality physical and mental health care. They provide early identification and treatment of disease and injury. Centers are linked to a decrease in health-related tardiness and school absences, decreased discipline problems and suspensions and a reduction in school drop-out rates. They focus on prevention so that health problems and risky behaviors can be caught early or prevented altogether. Students are treated quickly and problems caught early so they spend more time in class.

There are 19 SBHCs in North Carolina. Ashe County’s Top Dog Clinic at the Middle School is one of the 19.

Ashe School Based Health Center was established in 1999, credentialed in 2002-2003 and re-credentialed in 2005-2006.

Original funding for the SBHC was through the Making the Grade grant and the Duke Endowment, through Ashe Memorial Hospital. Grant funding from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, school health unit and federal grant funding through Ashe Memorial Hospital, supported the center until 2009.

At that point, the Ashe SBHC received one year of funding for the school year 2009-2010 through a state grant through Ashe Memorial Hospital with no promise of any futher state funding. The county then pitched in, the center’s billing practices changed and the center was again able to again receive a N.C. State grant resulting in sustainability income through 2013.

The mission of the ASBHC is to provide available and accessible quality health services by qualified staff characterized by open communication and confidentiality leading to a healthier student community.

What Does The SBHC Do?

The center provides services to students, regardless of their ability to pay.

Staffing includes a nurse practitioner, registered nurses, licensed professional counselor, registered dietitian, medical office assistant and health educator.

A mental health counselor on site.

The clinic provides acute, chronic medical care, nutritional counseling, small group sessions and mental health counseling all during the school day.

Types of minor acute illnesses are evaluated and treated: colds, strep throat, urinary tract infections, ear infection, headaches, injuries, on hand for any emergencies that arise.

The focus is on prevention so that health problems and risky behaviors can be caught early or prevented altogether. Students are treated quickly and problems caught early so they spend more time in class (National Assembly on School Based Health Care).


The center’s practitioners have been able to diagnosis several students early with things as serious as leukemia, testicular cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to name a few. The diagnosed students received proper treatment with early detection and are leading healthy lives today.


Who Does The SBHC Serve?

547 Students enrolled in the School Based Health Center (98% of student body)

Licensed Mental Health Professional contacts- 171

Physician Assistant contacts -1259

Registered Dietitian contacts - 41

Registered Nurse contacts -538

Total Contacts - 2009

Total individual users - 388


Who are the community partners serving on the SBHC Advisory Council?

Appalachian District Health Care

Ashe County Health Department-medical supervisors and financial managers,

Ashe Memorial Hospital

Ashe County Schools

Faith Community

N.C. Cooperative Extension

Department of Social Services

Ashe County Government

Lawson Support Services


In December, the SBHC Advisory Committee conducted its first Holiday Tour of Homes in a effort to raise much-needed funds. As a result of the volunteers, home owners and community support, the event profited $1,824, all of which will go back into the SBHC budget.


For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.