Doctor earns award for work in schools

Kjolhede

Dr. Chris Kjolhede a pediatrician and Bassett Medical Center’s director of school-based health centers, received the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the national School-Based Health Alliance on June 24.

SBHA is a national organization that supports school-based health centers across the country. The centers provide services such as medical, behavioral, dental and vision care directly in schools so children don’t have to travel far to get to a doctor, according to SBHA’s website. The centers also let students spend more time in the classroom because they don’t have to miss school for appointments.

The award is given annually to people and institutions who “go above and beyond to manifest the vision of quality school-based health care for all young people,” according to SBHA’s website.

“The award was very humbling, and I accepted it with great gratitude,” Kjolhede said. He said the award wouldn’t be possible without the school-based health team at Bassett, Bassett’s board of trustees, administration and department of pediatrics.

Bassett has 20 school-based health centers in 15 school districts that provide preventative medical, mental health, and dental services, according to Bassett’s website. The insurance is billed if the family has it, but if it doesn’t, then Bassett covers the cost with funds from the Department of Health and Friends of Bassett, among other foundations, Kjolhede said. No family pays out of pocket for care they receive at the centers.

Every year, except one, for the past 25 years, Kjolhede has attended national School-Based Health Alliance meetings, conducting workshops and presenting research papers. Kjolhede’s role at Bassett’s school-based health centers is to act as the health care provider for the day, he said. He reviews difficult physical findings and concerning patients and assists nurse practitioners or physician assistants who are the usual caregivers at sites.

For the past five years, Kjolhede and the school-based heath care team have used telemedicine — a way for physicians to assess patients remotely using electronic communication — in some standard primary care situations, he said. They also use it to check for otitis media, an infection of the middle ear, and to diagnose some rashes.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.