Kelley Lathrop, RAHS ancillary care coordinator, with Courtney Dewey, O.D., and Adam Burgess, RAHS mobile unit driver.
Good vision is essential to healthy childhood development and success in school. The state of Michigan administers no-charge basic vision screening to children through school-based health centers and local health departments. But when a screening flags a child as needing eyeglasses or an eye examination to address a potential concern, several factors can make timely, accessible follow-up care a challenge.
Working with Michigan Medicine’s Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools (RAHS), a team led by Kellogg optometrist Courtney Dewey, O.D., is piloting two models for delivering no-cost follow-up care: bringing students to services, and bringing services to students.
In the nearby community of Ypsilanti, students are transported from area schools to a health center run by RAHS at Ypsilanti Community High School. There, Kellogg faculty and staff conduct basic screenings, eye examinations and eyeglass fittings. RAHS also has a mobile unit equipped to offer the same services. Students needing new or replacement glasses can choose from a good selection of eyeglass frames. Orders are filled at the Kellogg Eye Center, and a Kellogg optician returns to the patient’s school to deliver and adjust the glasses. When advanced follow-up care is called for, clinicians facilitate appointments with ophthalmologists at one of Kellogg’s clinical locations.
Building on their success, another RAHS mobile clinic began visiting school-based health centers in Flint, Michigan, in early 2019, this one equipped and staffed to provide both eye and dental care.
“It’s been a learning process for us,” says Dr. Dewey. “RAHS first tried providing vouchers for free eye examinations. But parents can’t always arrange for transportation or time off from work, and follow-through rates were low. Transporting students to and from school-based health centers has been an improvement, and so far, it looks like the mobile unit allows us to see even more patients.”
While other communities utilize mobile care units, Dr. Dewey notes that coordinating the unit with school-based health centers makes Kellogg’s approach unique. “An interdisciplinary team of nurse practitioners, physicians, clinical social workers, medical assistants and a care coordinator on-site makes sure kids keep appointments and schedule follow-up care,” she explains. “So far that added attention seems to be making a big difference.”