Health Center News

Back to School! Community Partners Come Together for Young People

When a community school and a Community Health Center come together, you can see the full picture of the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” By definition, a community school is not only focused on academics, but also youth development, family support, health, and social services, and community development through partnerships. In the Allston neighborhood of Boston, MA, Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA) is working with Charles River Community Health (CRCH) to bring health care to their students and families.

NACHC, as a core partner in the Every School Healthy Campaign—an initiative by  America’s Promise Alliance (APA)— recently visited the school as part of a gathering of education, health, and social service partners brought together by APA. The Every School Healthy campaign is a part of Together for Healthy and Successful Schools, a collaborative initiative working to advance the vision that all schools support education and health and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The partnership between GPA and CRCH is part of a broader effort by the school to be attentive to the health and wellness of their students and families. The school nurse, provided by the school system, can refer existing health center patients to the center as they come in. The health center provides a clinician, outreach support and a waiting area directly in the school and like the community school, is open year-round.

“We are able to navigate concerns from children and parents from the school in a more all-inclusive way and the partnership offers our providers a great benefit to helping their patients,” said Dr. Greeshma Naini, MD, Associate Medical Director, and family medicine provider, Charles River Community Health.

The partnership has been in place for nearly 15 years according to Lauren Fogarty Lafferty, Director of Extended Learning Time, at the academy, “We look at each partnership uniquely, and there has to be a mutual benefit relationship.”

The cornerstone of building that mutual benefit comes in building trust from the patients and the families. “We always feel Gardner [Pilot Academy] is a one-of-a-kind partnership.  We trust and support each other and in turn, our patients and families trust both of us,” said Francisca Guevara, Associate Director, Community Support Services, Charles River Community Health.

(Photo: Top right: Francisca Guevara, Outreach Services, CRCHC; Lauren Fogarty Lafferty, Director of External Learning Time, GPA; Elizabeth Browne, Executive Director, CRCH; Dr. Greeshma Naini, Family Medicine Provider, CRCH)

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