Victor is in 5th grade and he has already missed 13 days of school since the beginning of the school year. Victor has a variety of ongoing chronic health issues, and as a result of all the class he’s missed, he is falling behind. Because his family doesn’t have easy access to a doctor, Victor has stopped telling his parents when he feels ill; he feels bad inconveniencing them.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon scenario.
More than 8 million children in the United States, approximately 1 in 6 students, miss 15 or more days of school each year. These students are considered chronically absent and are at risk of poor school performance and dropping out.
The culprit? Research shows that chronic absenteeism is linked to poor health.
When kids are healthy, both physically and mentally, they are better prepared to learn and achieve. Yet, 21% of children in the United States live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level; many of these children have inadequate health insurance, live in medically underserved communities, and have limited access to health care practitioners who can address their basic health needs.
Hazel Health was built to provide access to healthcare in schools, where children spend most of their time, by ensuring all students receive care at no cost to families. By operating virtual medical clinics supported by a network of doctors, Hazel lowers costly urgent care visits, reduces chronic absenteeism and aims to improve academic outcomes.
Hazel partners with school nurses to connect students with a provider to treat acute situations, prescribe 15 different over-the-counter medicines, and conduct health screenings when needed. School nurses play a critical role in improving and preserving student health, and we’re proud to support the great work they do for our children in schools.
Built and backed by seasoned educators, technologists and healthcare practitioners, Hazel was inspired by the founding team’s undertaking to create a new pediatric healthcare landscape that promotes academic outcomes for all students. Nick Woods has a software background from Apple and startups, Rob Darzynkiewicz was a pediatric emergency director and Raquel Antunez worked in K-12 education as a teacher, principal, director and as an entrepreneur for full-district professional development Implementation. Hazel’s CEO, Josh Golomb, has a healthcare background, and most recently led a company called Paladina Health that operates national primary care clinics.
We have seen promising results with our partner schools. On average, 9 out of 10 students return to class after a Hazel visit, and there has been an overall 40% reduction in health-related absenteeism.
And we’re just beginning to scratch the surface.
We are excited to share our journey as we continue to invest in healthcare as a way to make students’ lives better — in health, performance, and beyond.