February 1, 2018

Celebrating and Learning from Black History Month

Julie Brewer, UCS Executive Director

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month and this year's theme is African Americans in Times of War, which commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918 and looks at the role of African Americans in every war.
A decade ago, I had the chance to have lunch with Civil Rights Movement icon and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Representative John Lewis of Georgia.  I asked him about the march from Selma to Montgomery he helped lead and the attack on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  As he described that day, I remember listening in awe and thinking how young he was at the time and the courage, determination, and commitment required to fight for vital changes in our country.
The celebration of Black History Month serves as a reminder of work still to be done and how policies of the past still impact the well-being of community members today.  The post-war economic and housing boom after World War II expanded discriminatory housing practices that were reinforced by federal housing policies, leading to redlining of neighborhoods and homeowner association policies that barred families of color from living in suburban communities.  You can check out the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County's We Are Wyandotte website for a study on the long-lasting impact of redlining.  Additionally, last year Johnson County Library hosted Tanner Colby, author ofSome of my Best Friends are Black. This book traces the history of discriminatory housing practices in the greater Kansas City area and the rise of suburban development in Johnson County. The Kansas City Public Library also featured author Richard Rothstein, who presented his book Color of Law: A forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America this past fall.
Understanding how past policy still impacts the health and well-being of our community today is vital in our work towards greater equity in health. Thanks to a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, UCS is working with community partners across all sectors to identify and address health disparities in Johnson County, recognizing that health outcomes are different depending where you live and your race. This work requires determination and commitment as modeled by the leaders who have tirelessly fought for a more just and equitable society.

Health Partnership Clinic and Shawnee Mission School District Partner to Add New School-Based Clinic in Merriam Park Elementary School

Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) has added a new federally qualified, school-based health center at Merriam Park Elementary School, 6100 Mastin St., in Merriam, Kan. The new site will only be available to Shawnee Mission School District students.
The clinic will offer specialized pediatric-focused care to treat most health conditions that affect school-aged children. Services are available through the school year to any Shawnee Mission student or child who attends the district's Early Childhood Education Center.  "School-based clinics can make a huge difference to students' health as well as their academic lives," said HPC's CEO Amy Falk. "In partnership with the school district, we hope to expand our reach to the community and offer convenient care that limits the amount of time students are out of class and parents/guardians must be off work."
"Our goal is to serve as a medical home for children and offer an additional access point to primary care," notes Anne VanGarsse, MD, FAAP, CHCEF, Pediatrician and Chief Health Officer. "Clinic services will include sick child visits, well-child and sports physicals, immunizations, chronic disease care like asthma, obesity and high cholesterol, mental health services, social service referrals and nutritional guidance."
Shelby Rebeck, MSN, BSN, RN, Health Services Coordinator for Shawnee Mission School District says, "The idea is to break down barriers to health care. Barriers for many of our students include low income, lack of knowledge, lack of transportation and parents'/guardians' inability to take time away from hourly jobs. Health Partnership provides a tremendous opportunity for our students to receive critical health care so that they can be successful in school."
"The Shawnee Mission School District and Health Partnership Clinic are an example of how two organizations can come together to help improve the lives of children," says Chaussee Druen, Principal, Merriam Park Elementary School. "The school-based health clinic will greatly expand the resources of our school nurse and social worker, and we hope to see improvement in attendance and student achievement."

The new center has operating hours on Tuesdays for walk-in health services and Wednesdays for behavioral health services. It accepts KanCare/Medicaid, commercial insurance and uninsured patients. A sliding-fee discount program is available to those who qualify. The center will be housed in existing space at the school.  For more information about Health Partnership Clinic, or to schedule a medical appointment, Shawnee Mission School District parents should call 913-648-2266. To schedule a behavioral health appointment, parents should contact the school's building social worker, or call 913-993-6422.

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