Health services lead to improved performance

Wed. Feb. 25/15

Studies indicate that school-based health services lead to improved academic performance for many students, according to pediatrician Dr. Wilma Arruda.

Arruda made a presentation to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school board Wednesday on plans to establish a new medical centre at John Barsby Secondary School later this year.

She said having health services readily available for students has led to fewer absences, higher educational aspirations and higher graduation rates in schools where medical centres have been established. Arruda said Nanaimo has a high percentage of low-income people, and 29 per cent of the population doesn't have a family doctor.

As to why John Barsby school has been chosen to house a medical centre, Arruda said many young people and their families from that community, which is considered to have the highest percentage of vulnerability in the district, often have difficulty accessing health services. "Providing health services in the school would allow for timely and close-to-home health care which would help mitigate the lack of appropriate health service delivery and create a health care safety net for this vulnerable population," she said.

"The plan is to start this basic clinic (in John Barsby) very soon."

The school board voted unanimously to continue its support of the project after Arruda's presentation.

The project is a partnership of a number of groups and organizations, including the school district, Island Health, RCMP and the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The medical centre will initially be funded with an approximately $200,000 government grant that was secured by a local group of general physicians and other partners as part of the province's "A GP For Me" program.