Providence schools to get on-site health clinics next year


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Three Providence public schools will soon have on-site health clinics to offer medical care to students at school.

The SMART clinics, a model of in-school health care being used in Chicago and Alabama, are being funded philanthropically and will be staffed by clinicians from the Providence Community Health Centers, who will be able to “diagnose, treat, and prescribe, as needed, for routine illness or injuries onsite for all students and staff in the school,” according to the R.I. Department of Education.

The first two clinics are expected to open at Roger Williams Middle School and Mount Pleasant High School in early 2021, RIDE said, with a third school to be announced.

The $2 million in private funding is being put up by the Partnership for Rhode Island, CVS Foundation, the Papitto Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

“There is no better investment than in health, wellness, and education results,” said Tom Giordano, the executive director of the Partnership for Rhode Island which is made up of CEOs and leaders of major Rhode Island employers.

Giordano said the idea for the health clinics in Providence schools came from Larry Merlo, the CEO of CVS Health. He said the CVS Foundation had been funding SMART clinics in other cities and wanted to start some locally. The group then brought the idea to RIDE. (CVS is not involved in directly running the clinics, just providing funds.)

Giordano said the foundation is providing the startup costs for the clinics, which are expected to be sustained moving forward using insurance and Medicaid reimbursements like a traditional health clinic.

The goal of the SMART clinics is to break down barriers to the classroom, especially for low-income students who may miss school for health reasons. The clinics can provide both preventive care and medical treatment for illnesses and injuries.

“Supporting the health of our students and our entire school community can be a powerful change in Providence and a much-needed resource for our families,” said R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “When we heard the story of SMART’s impact in other schools and communities across the country, we immediately knew it could make a real difference for the students, staff, and families of Providence.” 

Providence students are currently distance learning until the holiday break, and are expected to return to the classroom on a staggered basis in January.

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