Borough President Marty Markowitz today said he is “deeply disappointed” by Long Island College Hospital’s closure of four school-based clinics that serve students from six schools in the downtown Brooklyn area. “It’s unfortunate,” he said, “that innovative ideas and funding mechanisms that would have kept the doors of these vital clinics open could not be found.”
The importance of these school-based clinics cannot be underestimated. They serve as the first line of defense when we face health threats such as MRSA and the H1N1 flu. In addition, research and evaluations have demonstrated that school-based health centers represent cost-effective investments of public resources by reducing inappropriate emergency use, reducing hospitalization and increasing school attendance. Also, students who have access to these services can better manage their personal health and are more informed about health issues overall.
As was pointed out last year when my office and other advocates fought to save LICH, it would be one thing if neighborhoods served by LICH and these school-based clinics were facing significant population declines, but let’s face it, all you have to do is walk down Court Street, Smith Street or Atlantic Avenue and count the strollers, or see the small children crowding area parks, or check out the number of students overfilling neighborhood schools to know that there is an exploding population of young families in great need of school-based medical services. Not only that, this community is expected to grow by 15 to 20 thousand residents in the years ahead.