February is School-Based Health Care Month

Legacy clinics are co-located in 19 schools in the Houston region, serving hundreds of students across multiple service lines.

By Barrett White


For working parents, the last thing you need is a sick child. You have to take time off work for the doctor appointment, you have to drop some money on the prescription… who has the time for that? What matters most of course is that your child is sick, and you want nothing more than to see them back to health, so you make the sacrifices where necessary.

Since 2012, parents of students enrolled in one of the 19 Houston-area KIPP and YES Prep schools with Legacy clinics in them have not had to worry about sick days.

Veronica Jimenez, whose two children Lorenzo and Mariah, are enrolled at a Legacy school-based clinic, love Miss Jessica at YES Prep East End. Lorenzo, a cross-country hopeful, recently was able to get his entire sports physical completed without missing class – an appointment which identified that he suffers from athletic asthma. Mariah, who lives with year-round environmental allergies that trigger her own asthma, feels safe knowing the clinic is nearby. Jimenez, who works for a daycare, finds it incredibly difficult to take time off work.

“My presence [at work] is necessary,” she laughs. Having a Legacy clinic inside her children’s school means that she can stay at work with peace of mind, but more importantly – the kiddos stay in school. “Sometimes the kids will wake up with a scratchy throat or a sniffle and instead of having them stay home sick, I tell them to go to school and see [the Legacy nurse].”

Jessica Martinez, another school-based health care parent, is relieved that her children do not have to miss class to see a physician. For Martinez, it comes down to convenience and reliability. Though she feels that her family did not necessarily have barriers to care prior to enrolling at Legacy, she says that the convenience of having her children’s primary physician immediately available to them lifts a weight from her shoulders.

“It’s practical. It works for working families,” she explains in Spanish. Having bilingual physicians available to her mean that she’s able to stay informed about her children’s health without the language barrier. “Our doctor is excellent. He explains everything thoroughly; gives us options, guidance on nutrition, and stays very involved in their health. I love it – very professional.”

Each of the 19 Legacy school-based clinics offers behavioral health care, pediatric care, immunizations, sports physicals – anything you would attend a standard clinic for.

Throughout the students’ enrollment, they are taught to be health literate, understanding their charts and how health care works, preparing them for navigating health care in adulthood. As they approach graduation and begin looking into life after high school, Legacy staff provides them a “Senior Check-Out,” during which they are connected to care in the world outside of their school. If a student is planning to attend college in another city for example, the Legacy providers ensure they are aware of what resources their college campus has available to them and which clinics are in the vicinity of their new school.

By putting health care providers in schools, students spend more time in class, parents miss fewer hours at work, and health conditions are less likely to go untreated. The existence of such clinics takes a tremendous weight off of parents, students, and employers – and lays the foundation for more positive health outcomes.