MONTGOMERY, AL - 17,000 children received free health care screenings during the last school year under an initiative launched by Governor Bob Riley that is designed to increase access to health care in rural areas of the state.
The work of the KidCheck initiative was celebrated Tuesday during a ceremony at the State Capitol attended by the Governor, school superintendents and leaders of university and community college nursing schools. In addition to the health screenings, students received referrals for follow up care.
Governor Riley announced the creation of KidCheck in May 2008 to bring free health care screenings to children in grades K-12. The initiative is modeled after a successful program started in Bibb and Blount county schools. Through Governor Riley's Alabama Rural Action Commission, and with the help of the Alabama Power Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield's Child Caring Foundation, the health screenings were available in 23 school systems across the state during the 2008-2009 school year.
Schools interested in joining KidCheck partner with area college nursing programs, whose students administer the health screenings. Needed equipment and supplies are donated or borrowed from hospitals and health agencies.
"There's no question that families in rural areas face special challenges in accessing health care. With KidCheck, we're able to provide children in rural schools with complete head-to-toe health care assessments for free," said Governor Riley.
Schools participating in KidCheck set aside a day during the school year for the health screenings. The screenings include height and weight measurements, body mass index measurements, heart and lung checks, vision and dental screenings, and inspections of the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and heart.
After each student finishes all screenings, the results are checked by a nurse or other trained person. Students with a gross abnormality are sent back for a re-check. Follow-up care is based on acuity of the student's health need. Serious findings are addressed that same day. Parents receive a written report of the results. Local KidCheck coordinators work to ensure that the parents of all uninsured children have access to the joint public health insurance application.