Nemours Children’s Hospital Increases Access to Care and Creates Sustainable Health Changes through Partnerships with Early Childhood Education and Public Schools

Orlando, FL

Not-for-Profit Children's Hospital

100 Beds

Through the Our Health Eyes program, NCH has screened more than 570 children at child care centers for vision problems. Nemours Children’s Hospital Our Healthy Eyes. The local counties surrounding NCH have a 4.2 percent prevalence rate of uncorrectable vision problems among children, significantly higher than the 1.9 percent national average for children.  The Our Healthy Eyes program helps reach young children and educate their families about eye and vision health, and identify those who need follow-up care.  NCH provides child care centers with a lesson plan about eye and vision health, and a newsletter to send home to families.

One week after the lesson, members of the NCH Our Healthy Eyes team come into the child care centers and screen children’s vision, with immediate results printed and sent home with children. When children are identified with a risk of an eye condition, NCH follows up with the families and their pediatrician for the child to have a full eye exam conducted.  Since the program launched in the fall of 2014, Our Healthy Eyes has reached 66 classrooms at 24 child care centers; educated 937 children; screened 577 and identified 45 children with vision problems.

“We have so many medical needs in our district. We have several students with tracheostomy tubes, one on a ventilator, and many with seizures, autism or diabetes. For a small district, we have our hands full. Our nurses and support staff really need to stay up to date.” – Amanda Kraft, MSN, ARNP, supervisor of health services at the School District of Osceola County

In 2015, NCH providers volunteered to provide free back to school physicals to 230 children in partnership with Shepherd’s Hope.Shepherd’s Hope Back to School Physicals.  Shepherd’s Hope is a faith-based organization of volunteers that exists to provide access to free medical care to uninsured. Prior to the partnership with NCH, children were turned away from schools in Central Florida on the first day because they didn’t have the required physical health and vision exams.  NCH and Shepherd’s Hope now offer free physical exams. For some children, this is the first interaction they have had with a physician since birth.  In 2014, more than 100 children were seen by volunteer NCH providers. In 2014, the first year of the partnership, 108 children were seen by volunteer NCH providers.  In 2015, 10 NCH providers volunteered over four days to provide free exams to 230 children.

“Our partnership with Nemours is a vital element for Shepherd’s Hope to provide compassionate free health care to the uninsured children in our community. These children deserve to get the right start to their school year, and we are dedicated to providing this fundamental service as funding restrictions at other community resources have reduced access.” – Marni Stahlman, CEO/President, Shepherd’s Hope.

NCH offers an annual workshop for school health nurses, as well as ongoing education addressing critical local health needs.Nemours School Health Conference. In August 2015, 100 nurses from across Central Florida’s elementary, middle and high schools gathered at Nemours Children’s Hospital for a complimentary workshop to share best practices in mental health, life support, seizures, diabetic care, asthma and caring for children with special needs facilitated by Nemours pediatric specialists. The conference reached its maximum capacity of attendees only after a week of opening the registration to the school nurses. Speakers at the conference addressed the needs unique to each county’s health needs, based on school health reports.

In addition to the school health conference, NCH sends providers to local schools to offer education about critical needs like asthma, diabetes, nutrition, and more. NCH also responds to special request for help at schools, like the request from the school nurse at Boggy Creek Elementary School, where 139 children have a documented history of asthma. In April 2014, the NCH director of respiratory therapy and a respiratory clinical instructor from the hospital led an “Asthma 101” class for parents and students at the school.

The National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives (ECELC) Project.  In 2012, NCH received national funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement the ECELC project, an initiative which promotes healthy environments, policies and practices in early care and education settings to address childhood obesity.  The collaborative brings together 25-30 early childhood programs in each community, provides in-person learning sessions around critical health care topics such as child nutrition, breastfeeding, infant feeding, physical activity, and family engagement.  By working with the leaders and instructors at early childhood centers, the information and new habits are embedded into the care center’s daily operations and education.  The approach builds a network of support, using a train-the-trainer concept, which has resulted in early childhood best practices reaching over 350 early childhood centers and more than 32,000 children.