Cy-Fair ISD will pioneer a new school-based health care facility when the district’s 11th high school opens in the fall of 2016. Trustees approved a recommendation May 11 to partner with Good Neighbor Healthcare to build a stand-alone facility at the school site off FM 529 and Westgreen Boulevard to reach underserved students in the district.

“If you look around High School No. 11, a few miles from this campus encompasses a student body population that is 75 percent economically disadvantaged,” Good Neighbor Healthcare representative Allen Ueckert said. “It’s a key area within Cy-Fair ISD to have a school-based clinic and a great site to reach as many students as we can that otherwise wouldn’t have access to health care.”

In 2013 there were about 2,000 school-based health centers in the U.S. offering a variety of services, such as primary care, mental health, health and nutrition education and case management, said Bevin Gordon, CFISD’s director of health services.

“The main goal is to increase access to quality health care to groups that are traditionally underserved,” she said.

Dallas ISD was one of the first districts in the country to open a school-based health care center, and since its inception the program has shown success in helping underserved students. Those who accessed the mental health component through the program had an 84 percent reduction in discipline referrals in the classroom and a 50 percent reduction in absences, according to statistics from CFISD.

“We know health and education have a reciprocal relationship,” Gordon said. “When students are well and in class, they can meet their full academic potential.”

Good Neighbor Healthcare was created more than 50 years ago with the mission of targeting poverty-stricken areas in Houston’s Fourth Ward. Today, the organization sees nearly 10,000 patients and offers a wide range of services, such as family medicine, dental, vision, health and nutrition education, behavioral health and community case management.

Since Good Neighbor HealthCare already offers additional health care services at their Houston facility in the Heights, they will be available at CFISD’s center as well.

“This is a unique model for the state of Texas because it provides a number of services that aren’t available in other school-based health clinics,” Ueckert said. “We’re excited about taking the expanded services we offer at our facility and offering them here as well.”

Traditional services that will be offered at the facility include general primary care, immunizations, dental care and mental health care along with additional services, such as health and nutrition education classes, parenting classes, weight management, reproductive health and the addition of community gardens.

The clinic will be open during the week, on Saturdays and year-round to provide optimal service for students and teachers, Ueckert said. Additionally, plans are in the works to provide transportation services for students who attend other schools across the district to get to the clinic.

Good Neighbor Healthcare, which is a nonprofit and a federally qualified health care center, will own and build the facility at the site of High School 11, but the district will still own the property, CFISD’s legal counsel Marney Sims-Collins said.

“We are a community school district, and we reflect those values and ideals,” she said. “This is a neat opportunity. I think in 10 years people are going to be modeling this around the state and this is the first. We are proud to be part of this.”