Mercy teams up with Cedar Rapids Community School District to offer electronic health records at school-based health centers
Local, school-based health centers are taking a step into the future. Mercy Medical Center and the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) are collaborating to enhance the efficiency of healthcare services offered to students through the Metro Care Connection (MCC) school-based health centers at Metro High School, Jefferson High School and Taylor Elementary School.
Metro Care Connection is a school and community partnership for families without access to healthcare services. It supports student learning and the physical, social, emotional and behavioral health of these students by providing school-based healthcare, mental health services and substance abuse counseling to students and their siblings.
The school-based health centers provide care to approximately 1,200 students per year; most do not have insurance or a primary care provider, and some have transportation barriers. Services provided, with parental consent, include well-child care such as preschool, school and sports physicals; immunizations; and care for minor illnesses.
On May 18, Mercy Medical Center began providing the existing school healthcare centers with the capability for complete electronic health records. Students seen by a nurse practitioner at each of the school-based locations now have their health information entered into Mercy’s Epic computer system, allowing for better coordination between doctors, nurses, therapists and other healthcare providers. Parents will sign consent forms for sharing of information during the registration process just as they do in every MercyCare Clinic.
“This system gives the students’ healthcare team immediate access to clinical knowledge and the latest expert information,” said Jeff Cash, Mercy senior vice president and CIO. “We’re pleased to be partnering with the school district on this project, which will allow providers to better communicate with each other through a complete electronic health record. Collaborating with our schools and offering this service as a community benefit donation is just a natural fit for us and an extension of our mission to care for the sick and enhance the health of our community.”
Cash added that the electronic health records are very secure, yet accessible with the patient’s permission. Mercy’s Epic system currently shares patient data electronically with UnityPoint Health and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics through a Health Information Exchange (HIE), if the provider and the patient both approve. This will allow students to receive better care in all care settings using shared patient information.
“We’re excited about this collaborative effort,” said Rhoda Shepherd, health services director for CRCSD. “In the past, our nurse practitioners kept paper records, which were maintained at each health center site. Epic will allow our nurse practitioners to see patients in any of our centers and have electronic access to their previous records regardless of where in MCC the services are provided. This offers a level of efficiency and care coordination we have not had in the past. The collaboration between Mercy and the District has been outstanding and we are so thankful for this opportunity to enhance the healthcare of our students and families who utilize our services.”
Referrals to the school-based health centers are facilitated through the school health offices whenever possible. For more information, call the Metro Care Connection program office at (319) 558-2481.