LEONARDTOWN, MD (October 20, 2020) – The St. Mary’s County Equity Task Force is pleased to announce plans to establish the first two school-based health centers in St. Mary’s County in order to promote equity in education, health, and public safety. The school-based health centers are under construction at Spring Ridge Middle School in Lexington Park and at Margaret Brent Middle School in Helen and will launch with certain services by December 2020.
The school-based health centers will initially offer school nursing, behavioral health services, preventive care, and health education programming. Future plans for school-based health centers include specific primary care services, the key to improving health outcomes for students who face barriers to accessing health care. Spring Ridge Middle School is located in a federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) for both primary care and mental health services. Margaret Brent Middle School is located in an HPSA for mental health services.
“Lack of consistent health care and accessible mental health services can create barriers to regular school attendance,” said Dr. Scott Smith, Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools. “School-Based Health Centers and our proactive partnership with the St. Mary’s County Health Department can address this need.” 
“School-based health centers play a critical role in promoting access to health care services and preventive programming for all students, including those who may be the most vulnerable to poor health outcomes,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “During a time of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, these sites will also be utilized for community testing and mass vaccination efforts.”
“Coupled with our School Resource Officers at these locations, this initiative provides increased behavioral health services and improved substance abuse prevention for our youth, helping them build better foundations for adulthood,” Sheriff Tim Cameron added.   

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