Excellus BlueCross BlueShield named Bassett School Health Center (SBHC) as the 2022 recipient of its $5,000 Community Health Award. practice manager Jane Hamilton, RN, and Courtney Graham, FNP, accepted funding on behalf of SBHC during a visit by Excellus BCBS Utica Regional President Eve Van de Wal in June at the SBHC in Cooperstown.
Through a competitive application process, the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Awards provide funding to initiate, expand and sustain programs and services that promote health. These investments advance health equity by extending the reach of preventive health services or health promotion programs to vulnerable populations. Health Plan’s corporate giving complies with all applicable laws and regulations and does not support fundraising organizations that conflict with its mission, goals, policies, or products.
The funding will contribute to the continued development of telehealth within the SBHC system. Like many uses of remote meeting technology, telehealth has received significant attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the technology is an essential complement to local in-person providers far beyond its pandemic applications – especially in a CSSB context.
“Students use video tours to access a variety of pediatric specialties,” Hamilton explained. “This includes telepsychiatry visits with a psychiatrist; medication follow-ups for ADHD or depression; clearance of concussion by a pediatrician; and ongoing management of chronic conditions, such as asthma and psychotherapy with school-based mental health clinicians without these specialists needing to travel to area schools – or students traveling to more large medical centers – practitioners can see more patients and students can get appointments sooner.
Telehealth becomes even more important for students with unusual or difficult-to-diagnose conditions. In 2021, the SBHC in Bassett launched a telepneumology program that connects students with rarer asthma and similar lung conditions to sub-specialists in Rochester. The Excellus BCBS Community Health Award will help the SBHC expand telehealth to other pediatric subspecialties.
“Providing access to high-quality health care is central to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” Van de Wal said. “We are proud to support the work of Bassett Medical Center School Health Centers with critical community funding to remove barriers to care and improve community health.”
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