Penn State Hershey receives Community Benefit Achievement Award

From among 131 entries, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center was selected as one of 19 winners of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) 2013 Achievement Awards. Begun in 1978, this program recognizes innovation, creativity and commitment to patient care in Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems.

HAP granted Penn State Hershey Medical Center a Community Benefit award for its partnership with school nurses for student health promotion.

After a year of preparation, a team of more than 100 nurses from the Medical Center partnered with staff from Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center and school nurses in the Lebanon School District to complete the students’ required annual health screenings. In two days, this team was able to conduct 3,105 required health screenings for the students in the district, a task that normally takes the team of school nurses four months to complete.

This initiative uncovered previously underestimated health and social concerns in the children in the district, as well as enabled school nurses to efficiently address these issues. Health screenings included growth, vision, hearing and scoliosis evaluations, and revealed problems such as a high rate of overweight and obese children. With the screenings completed in a much shorter timeframe than in the past, school nurses are now granted additional time to provide interventions for the students who have been identified with health concerns. Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center is currently working with the district to develop customized action plans and programs to further improve student health based on these screenings and information gathered from additional school health assessments.

In addition to completing the screenings, Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center tested a revised BMI letter sent home to parents. In this letter, a more in-depth explanation of the health risks associated with a higher body mass index percentile — its meaning and resources to help families — is included. The center plans to submit the revised letter, created based on parent feedback, to the Pennsylvania Department of Health in hopes that all public school districts will adopt the new format.

The Medical Center is planning its return to the school district in September and October to screen the same seven schools.

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Last Updated July 17, 2013