School Health Research & Report
During the 2012-13 school year, the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Philanthropic Strategic Plan (PSP), developed by the Orange County School Board, Orange County Public Schools’ Superintendent and the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools (FOCPS), was released outlining eight priority initiatives which address known gaps in academic achievement, academic progress, college and career readiness, early childhood development, student wellness, and technology needs of OCPS students. Under the first goal of “Ensure All Children Are Ready to Learn” an initiative was established to “Provide a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in every OCPS school to reduce absenteeism, improve student performance, and support student health.” School nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the wellbeing, academic success and life-long achievement and health of students. Licensed school nurses serve as case managers, facilitating children’s access to medical and dental homes, and coordinate the care essential to addressing and improving their health with the goal of keeping students in school and learning. They often work with the whole family to understand a student’s healthcare needs.
In January 2014, leaders from the Orange County School Board, OCPS, Orange County Health Department, Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), Florida Hospital (FH), Orlando Health, Nemours Children’s Hospital, and other healthcare providers convened to discuss the PSP priority related to school-based healthcare. During that meeting, these stakeholders agreed that further exploration of the issues and options for implementing and funding a district-wide, school-based healthcare program was an important step in moving forward. The WPHF and FH agreed to jointly commission a consultant to conduct the following activities:
- Analyze the level of need within OCPS schools;
- Inventory current school and community-based healthcare services for children;
- Conduct research on school-based healthcare services in peer school districts and statewide best practice models;
- Identify reimbursement and funding opportunities; and,
- Explore areas of opportunity including recommendations and next steps.
The report was finalized in early 2016, and presented to the Orange County School Board in November 2016 during a work session. The research findings and areas for opportunity were well-received by School Board members, who requested immediate action on several of the next steps outlined including:
- Engaging community partners to share the cost in hiring a high level point person to develop and implement a three-year pilot project around key recommendations;
- Implementing a telemedicine pilot project;
- Collaborating with area hospitals to determine how school health services can reduce non-emergency ER visits; and,
- Increasing opportunities for billing reimbursement through Medicaid and private insurance.
The Executive Summary can be found on page 1 of the report, and the eight areas of opportunity and recommended next steps begin on page 36.