WSKG | By Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo, Report for America corps member
Published January 5, 2023
Bassett Healthcare runs the largest school-based health network in rural New York. It has locations in Schoharie, Chenango, Otsego and Broome counties. At school-based health centers, children can get check-ups, shots, and basic health care, all inside the school building. When COVID first hit in 2020, New York’s schools shut down, but many of the small doctor’s offices inside of them didn’t. “Kids still needed their immunizations, they still needed their physicals, they still were grappling even more so with anxiety, depression, obesity, ADHD, all those things didn’t go away because COVID came around,” Jane Hamilton, school-based health practice manager for Bassett, said.
It’s been just over 30 years since “school-based health” first came to Delaware County. Bassett Healthcare Network opened its first site in 1992, at Delaware Academy in Delhi. “This is a region that’s definitely lacking in care, so it’s definitely a rewarding position. And the kids feel safe here, they know they can come here, and that’s been a really nice thing to see too,” physician’s assistant Chelsea Doig at Delaware Academy said.
Kelly Zimmerman is the superintendent of Delaware Academy. She said school-based health helps make doctor’s appointments less disruptive for kids. “It’s a game changer, especially in rural communities, where oftentimes there might just be one provider; a parent has to take hours off work for, a child misses a half day or a full day of school, for one appointment. Again, all of that is mitigated,” Zimmerman said.