A Path to Thriving
The A Path to Thriving (APT) project built on the promising work of the Colorado Association for School-Based Healthcare (now Youth Healthcare Alliance) and its partners aiming to improve the quantity and quality of healthcare for Colorado’s vulnerable youth. The project worked to align and improve systems within and between health and educational sectors to create a continuum of education, prevention, and intervention that helps youth overcome obstacles to health and have the opportunity to thrive in all aspects of life.
Youth Healthcare Alliance and Apex worked together to adapt and facilitate a continuous improvement process for administrative and clinical staff. Apex adapted Kaizen practices to make them relevant and feasible in an SBHC setting and applied a Systems Evaluation Protocol (SEP) developed at Cornell University to ensure that APT’s design and implementation were grounded in data-based decision-making. Project activities and grantee engagement resulted in the identification of many priorities for continued development of the Apex Data Hub and Data App. Informed by this project, the tailored data system will continue to support SBHCs through an advancing technology landscape, especially regarding factors amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a desire for real-time data; need for increased collaboration between agencies; importance of remote work, school, and healthcare; and attention to social determinants of health.
State Tobacco Education, Cessation, and Prevention Program
The Youth Healthcare Alliance participated in the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) State Tobacco Education, Cessation, and Prevention Program (STEPP) and engaged Apex as an evaluator and technical assistance partner.
This project supported nine Colorado school-based health centers (SBHCs) to implement screening for tobacco usage and exposure for both smoking and vaping as a standard practice by piloting screening tools and follow-up processes. At the end of the project, providers at these sites were regularly screening and engaging patients in dialogue about the behaviors patients desired in order to reach their health goals, whether cessation or harm reduction. The data showed that providers utilized the screening tool as well as provided interventions in response to the screening results increasingly over the course of the project. Importantly, the data showed that tobacco usage was correlated with reported depression and anxiety symptoms. This evidence underscores that SBHCs, with their comprehensive primary and behavioral health services model, are holistically addressing these challenges.