OSBHA April Newsletter: COVID-19 Advocacy, Telehealth, and Opportunities

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In our April newsletter, we share about our advocacy in response to COVID-19, telehealth from the perspective of three Student Health Advocates, and other opportunities during this time.
April 2020
OSBHA Advocacy in Response to COVID-19
Today’s Coronavirus epidemic has highlighted the crucial role that schools play in our lives, and how much they contribute to the health of our communities and we recognize the amazing work that our educators are doing everyday. School health services are a critical part of that infrastructure, and school health providers have been working diligently to ensure that students are still receiving their medications and getting the healthcare they need even with school closures.
Here at OSBHA, we’ve been looking ahead to ensure that there will be adequate school health supports when it is time for children and youth to return to school. We anticipate that the role of school health providers will be amplified by the need for continued health education, testing, and screening related to COVID-19. Additionally, there will be students that did not have proper medication management during the stay at home period, and many will need support addressing mental health needs caused by intense family stress.
As plans for reopening the schools begin to take shape, it is imperative that school health supports are an integral part of all efforts, that school health providers are included in decision-making, and that someone in each district or community is dedicated to coordinating all school health related activities.
OSBHA is working diligently to advocate for school health providers by doing the following:

  • Working with the national School-Based Health Alliance and affiliates in other states to develop a funding proposal for school-based health centers. We are collectively advocating for $100 million to be included in the next CARES Act. 
  • Encouraging District leaders and the Oregon Department of Education to include school health providers in decision-making and planning processes. 
  • Reaching out to our school health partners in Oregon as well as California and Washington to identify school health needs and align advocacy efforts as our three states align reopening plans.
  • Working with other human service oriented organizations to advocate for supports for children and families with the Oregon legislature. 
In the next month, we’d like to convene school-based health center representatives to help us identify what kinds of supports school-based health centers will need to prepare for schools to reopen. If you are interested in participating in this conversation, please contact me at maureen@osbha.org
Maureen Hinman
OSBHA Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives
OSBHA Student Health Advocates Talk About Telehealth
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many school-based health centers and other healthcare providers are increasing their telehealth services (phone and video appointments). Many SBHC providers are using telehealth for the first time, and youth across the state are turning to telehealth for their physical and mental health needs. This month, we interviewed three OSBHA Student Health Advocates about their experience and recommendations for telehealth.
Jaelene Diaz Chavez, Student Health Advocate
Sophia Mann, Student Health Advocate
Meg Feely, Student Health Advocate Coach
What did you like about your experience using telehealth?
Jaelene: I like how I was still able to have an appointment over video chat. It was as if I was actually in my doctor’s office. It felt more comfortable because usually FaceTime calls are with my friends and that felt like one of those calls.
Sophia: I didn’t have to wait as long to get an appointment. At the health center I went to they didn’t have a nurse that was there every day because she moved between two schools so it sometimes took a while to get an appointment with her, but when they started using telehealth appointments it was a lot faster. I also found it was a little easier to talk to the nurse over the computer than it is in person because usually I get really nervous going to the doctor and it felt less intimidating going to my appointment alone. 
Meg: Overall, my telehealth experience was very positive. The doctor was very supportive and kind. I was also able to schedule this appointment the day prior, which is a much less wait time than usual. 
Did you experience challenges or problems using telehealth?
Jaelene: I didn’t really experience any challenges, at one time I had slow internet so it lagged the video for a bit.
Sophia: I did not.
Meg: The challenge I came across with this was mainly technology operation. My end was working for video, but the doctor's wasn't. So she just ended up calling me and had me send pictures of my skin since I was having a mild allergic reaction. 
How can healthcare providers make telehealth a supportive environment for youth?
Jaelene: One way that healthcare providers can make telehealth a supportive environment for youth is by offering different ways to get in contact with them, whether that’s on FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, etc.
Sophia: Something that may help make it more supportive is to explain what the appointment is going to be like since it’s going to look a bit different than having an in person appointment with the nurse/ healthcare provider 
What are your ideas or recommendations on how to improve telehealth services for youth?
Meg: I think the main recommendation I have for improvement of this technology is more reliable interfaces and more training so that EVERY provider can use this type of visit so that medical care is more accessible.
What would your advice be for youth who are accessing telehealth for the first time?
Jaelene: Some advice I would offer for youth is that it is not a scary experience. In fact I believe it seems easier than actually going into the doctor’s office. And to be in a good spot with WiFi.
Sophia: Write down any of the questions you have before your appointment.
Meg: My recommendation for future users of this technology is to be flexible. It's not nearly as nerve-racking as an in-person visit, but technology might not be your friend.
Updates & Opportunities
  • The SBHC State Program Office is offering virtual office hours for Oregon SBHCs TOMORROW (Friday, April 17) from 11am-12pm to answer any questions you might have and find out how we they can support you in the time of COVID-19. If you are an SBHC Coordinator, you should have received an email with call-in information from SPO.
  • COVID-19 has ravaged the lives of many low-wage employees, including many immigrant Oregonians. This is of utmost importance now that we have learned that immigrant Oregonians cannot access any of the benefits in the federal stimulus package. That is why we are working with our community partners to develop the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF). The Oregon Worker Relief Fund would provide temporary financial support for Oregonians that are falling through the cracks during our current global pandemic. Take action TODAY to ensure that ALL of Oregon's workers can take care of themselves and their families.
Which School-Based Health Centers Are Open in Oregon?
We are updating our website with information on open and closed SBHCs in Oregon through the COVID-19 outbreak.
Click here for the most recent operational status list, and please check with your SBHC directly before visiting.
If you are on the front lines at an SBHC and your operational status changes, please let OSBHA know by sending an email to admin@osbha.org. We are working to keep information as current as possible. 
We would like to thank the following funders for supporting us in 2020:
Albany School District
Newberg School District
CareOregon, Gold Level Wellness Partner
Clackamas ESD
EC Brown Foundation
Kaiser Permanente
Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division, School-Based Health Center Program
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
Ronald W. Naito MD Foundation
School-Based Health Center Membership Dues
United Way of Columbia Willamette
Event Sponsors
Pacific West Bank
Willamette Dental
Individual Donors
Allan M. Siegel
Danni/y Rosen
Jill Daniels
William Thomas
Tracy Dannen-Grace
The Oregon School-Based Health Alliance
911 NE Davis St. Portland, OR 97232