House Study Committee on Health, Education, and School-Based Health Centers

During the 2015 General Assembly session, the Georgia House approved HR 640 creating the House Study Committee on Health, Education, and School-Based Health Centers.  This study committee is exploring ways to expand Georgia’s school-based health centers to meet the needs of under served children and youth in our schools. The study committee met on September 15, 2015 at the State Capitol and heard the following presentations.


Presentation by Dr. Veda Johnson, Director of Partners for Equity in Child & Adolescent Health, Emory Univ School of Medicine



Presentation by Shea Ross, Director of Development and Government Affairs, with Global Partnership for Telehealth



Presentation by E Fener Sitoff with Voices for Georgia Children



The House Study Committee on Health, Education, and School-Based Health Centers was created by HR 640.  It reads:

HR 640

WHEREAS, there is a profound connection between a student’s health status and educational

achievement; and


WHEREAS, improving and maintaining health so that students are present, engaged, and

hopeful is critical to their academic success; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers are an evidence-based model of health care that

address the complex health care needs of underserved children and adolescents; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers support improved education outcomes; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers improve academic achievement by improving the

physical and mental status of students, thereby raising attendance rates, increasing seat time,

reducing dropout rates, and improving classroom attention and behavior, all of which

improve school climate; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers promote positive youth development by helping to

reduce risky behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers are organized through collaboration among schools,

communities, and health providers; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers utilize an interdisciplinary team approach to

providing access to coordinated primary health care within the context of family and

community; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers operate exclusively for the purpose of providing

health services, such as primary care, preventive health care, management and monitoring

of chronic health conditions, behavioral health care, oral health care, and health promotion

services; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers can be the first, and at times the only, access point

for continuous and comprehensive care for children with a variety of complex medical,

behavioral, and social needs; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers can reduce emergency room use and

hospitalizations and provide access to and increase use of primary care, especially among

children with chronic diseases, such as asthma; and


WHEREAS, school-based health centers have been proven to reduce costs to the Medicaid

program through reductions in pharmacy costs, emergency department visits,

hospitalizations, and use of non-emergency transportation; and


WHEREAS, Georgia ranks 42nd among the states in its development of school-based health



There is created the House Study Committee  on Health, Education, and School-Based Health Centers.

8 Steps to Bone Health

May is National Osteoporosis Month.  Take steps now to improve bone health for yourself and your family.

Commissioners Nellie Duke and Sharon Baker as "Calendar Girls" promoting osteoporosis awareness.

Commissioners Nellie Duke and Sharon Baker as “Calendar Girls” promoting osteoporosis awareness.

In 2004, the Surgeon General declared osteoporosis to be epidemic in the United States, affecting 4.5 million women over the age of 50 nationwide.  In Georgia, osteoporosis causes 75 fractures every day and costs $1 million per day in medical expenses.

The first sign of osteoporosis is often a fracture.  Sometimes the fracture is caused by trauma, such as a fall.  However, when the disease is severe, the bone becomes so fragile it breaks and causes the fall.  Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” because frequently, there are no early symptoms.

The Georgia Commission on Women launched the Georgia Osteoporosis Initiative to raise awareness about osteoporosis and to encourage women to be tested and learn about their individual risk.  Bone density screening is the test most often used to diagnose osteoporosis and monitor treatment.

Women most at risk for osteoporosis are those who have low body weight, smoke, or take steroid medications. Early menopause, cessation of menses before the age of 40, is a major risk factor because the levels of estrogen, a bone-protecting hormone, decline.  A family history that includes fractures, particularly of the hip, is also a factor.

Here are eight steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis:

1.  Do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Weight bearing exercise in particular strengthens bone.  Walk with a friend.  Work in the garden.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

2.  Strength and balance training will help strengthen your muscles and prevent falls. Convince a friend to try a yoga or a T’ai Chi class with you.  Both are fantastic ways to tone muscles and improve balance.

3.  Protect yourself from falls. Install handrails on stairs and grab bars in the bathtub.  Make sure all rugs have skid proof backing.  Get rid of clutter, and ensure you have proper lighting in all areas of your home—including a night light in the bathroom. If your doctor recommends a cane or walker, use it.

4.  Schedule a regular eye exam to check for problems that might affect visual acuity.

5.  If you have a fracture during middle age, ask your health care provider to order a bone density test.

6.  If you are 65 or older, bone density testing should be done to determine a baseline bone status.

7.  Get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Eat dairy products and green vegetables such as broccoli. Ask to have a Vitamin D blood level done and take supplements as recommended by your health care provider.

8.  If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, take your medications as ordered to prevent further bone loss.

Osteoporosis is preventable, but you must start now.  Maximum bone density is reached by the age of 30, so prevention must begin early.  Encourage your daughters and granddaughters from the time of birth to make deposits in their bone density bank by exercising and eating a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D.

Ask to be screened if your health provider does not suggest this test.  The sooner osteoporosis is detected, the better the treatment outcomes will be.  Many medications are now available to help prevent further bone loss.


Sharon Baker is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She is a Nurse Practitioner and expert on women’s health and osteoporosis.  She lives in Rome, GA.

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