Leadership Henderson develops business plan for underfunded school-based health center

Dr. Joel & Carol Bower School-Based Health Center has provided health care for underserved children ages 4 to 19 at Basic High School since 2004

HENDERSON, Nev. – While questions about health care grab headlines on a daily basis, one group of Henderson business leaders is providing answers for a local health care facility. In November, the Leadership Henderson class of 2012 began to develop a business and marketing plan to financially sustain the Dr. Joel & Carol Bower School-Based Health Center.

Located at Basic High School, the Health Center has addressed the needs of school-aged children (ages 4 to 19) in Henderson since 2004, but, like so many endeavors, it has been hit hard by the recession, leaving many families wondering where and how to meet the health care needs of their children. Since it opened, the center has served more than 5,000 students primarily from at-risk schools.

“We opened the center as a way to provide high quality, accessible health care to all children in Henderson schools, especially the uninsured, underinsured and vulnerable populations,” Dr. Joel Bower said. “Without a school-based health care facility such as this, students either forgo treatment all together or utilize local emergency rooms for their primary care. Both are systemic problems that we can help solve.”

Bower, in partnership with Nevada State College and the Clark County School District, founded the health center in honor of his wife Carol.

“We welcome the expertise of our local business leaders to create a long-term plan that will sustain the center for years to come,” said Dr. Sherrilyn Coffman, health center director and nursing professor and assistant dean at Nevada State College. She said she aims to have the health center self-sufficient by 2015.

“We’ve touched so many young lives thus far and I can’t imagine not being a part of the health and wellness of this community,” she added.

The health center is dedicated to treating the whole child and provides primary care, management of chronic illness, health promotion, wellness counseling, treatment of injuries, routine physical examinations and pre-participation sports physicals.

“Having the Leadership team address this unmet need gives hope to all school-aged children and their families in Henderson,” said Scott Muelrath, executive director/CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, the founding organization of Leadership Henderson. “Like previous Leadership classes, we feel it is our civic duty as business leaders to affect positive change in the community we call home.”

In the past, the health center has received funding and support from Nevada State College, the Nevada State College Foundation, the Nevada State Health Division Trust Fund, the City of Henderson Redevelopment, St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Catholic Healthcare West Foundation, and many other individuals and community agencies, but the state budget crisis and economic downturn has taken its toll.

Due to the lack of resources, the health center had to close its lab in May. The closure caused nurse practitioners at the clinic to give prescriptions based on prognosis, or to refer patients somewhere else for testing. The center needs $200,000 a year to maintain its current level of services and, if funding is available, would add mental and dental services as well.

“Given the economic uncertainty and continued need for the health services provided by the School-Based Health Clinic, the Henderson Leadership Class of 2012 has stepped up to the plate to develop a plan to make the health center self-sustaining by 2015,” said Michael Westra, chairman of Leadership Henderson. “The united leadership exemplified by this diverse group of talented Henderson businessmen and women truly demonstrates what it means to be a part of the community.”

Charities, Henderson schools and government agencies have been the recipients of time, talent, fundraising and resources of the previous 11 Leadership Henderson classes. Leadership Henderson will hold a press tour of the facility in the months to come and will host a grand reopening in May 2012 when the plan is complete and ready for implementation.

“There are so many good causes in the Henderson community, and we are glad to offer this unique opportunity every year as part of our program,” said Rebecca Fay, director of Leadership Henderson.

Leadership Henderson is a nonprofit organization under the Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The program is an eight-month course devoted to educating and empowering civic-minded professionals with a goal of building and maintaining a strong network of effective community leaders. Through panel presentations by community leaders and experts, simulations, plus hands-on experiences, participants learn about current issues pertaining to local economy, government, social services, health, gaming, business and education that affect Henderson residents and businesses.

Since its inception in 2004, the School-Based Health Center (SBHC) has served more than 5,000 students primarily from at-risk schools including Basic High School, Brown Junior High School and Sewell and Robert Taylor elementary schools but is open to all Henderson schools. The SBHC provides primary care, management of chronic illness, wellness counseling, treatment of injuries, routine physical examinations and pre-participation sports physicals. The SBHC is located at Basic High School in Henderson. The center is administered by Nevada State College (NSC) in collaboration with Basic High School and the Clark County School District (CCSD).  The director and administrative staff are employees of NSC, and the NSC School of Nursing has direct oversight over the center. Nurse practitioners staff the center four days per week during the regular school year, and two days per week during the summer. The health center, located at 400 Palo Verde Drive in Henderson, can be reached by calling 702-799-0508.

For more information on the business and marketing plan for the health center, or in Leadership Henderson, call Rebecca Fay at 702-992-7272. Applications for the next Leadership Henderson class can be filled out online at www.hendersonchamber.com/leadership_community.php.