NYU Langone, Pols Celebrate New School Health Fund Signed into Law in Sunset Park

Representatives of NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn gathered with Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and state Sen.Velmanette Montgomery at Sunset Park High School, 153 35th Street on Thurs., Nov. 1 to celebrate new school health fund signed into law this month.

The newly formed state School-Based Health Center Fund will give much needed support to the more than 255 centers across the state.

Executive director of the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone Larry McReynolds expressed special thanks to the architects of the new fund, which New York State residents can contribute to when they file their tax returns, with some $2 million in new revenue for the school-based health centers anticipated.

Thanks to the new law, “If they are due a refund, they can dedicate part of that refund to school based health clinics,” McReynolds explained.

In particular, he added, “School-based health centers improve access to health care for vulnerable kids whether they’re feeling bullied or have low self-esteem or are depressed or have pregnancy issues or are at risk for HIV. We are in a destigmatized, easily accessible environment that anyone can access regardless of their ability to pay. That’s why we have great outcomes with kids. We make it easy for them.”

Victoria Antonini, principal of Sunset Park High School, which has been opened since 2009, stressed the convenience of the facility has brought to students.  

“I feel as though we are very lucky to have a school-based health center not just for students who may not have access to those resources outside of school, but every student can take advantage of it for something as simple as getting a physical so they can participate in sports,” she added. “They don’t have to worry their parents with making an appointment with the doctor and going after work. They can do it right here so it’s convenient and it allows high school students to take on adult roles. The idea of, ‘I need to do this. I can make the appointment myself and make it when I don’t have a test,’ it’s like a rehearsal for adulthood.”

Ortiz and Montgomery handed out certificates and took a tour of the school.

“I’m very impressed with the clinic and the holistic approach they have regarding nurse practitioner, social worker, guidance counsellor and NYU Langone working together to make sure they give the best services they can,” Ortiz said. “The importance of today is to continue to push to ensure that every child in the state of New York will be able to have a physical exam in their school. It’s to ensure every child has the opportunity to be physically fit for their education. If any child feels sick, they won’t have to go to a hospital. They can do it in a school setting and they won’t be missing classes.”

“This is a very small step in terms of creating a little bit of a revenue stream for school-based health clinics in our state. Every citizen now can participate in helping to fund these programs,” added Montgomery. “It’s a big step.”

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