NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thousands of New York City school children are in danger of losing valuable medical care.
Now, officials in the Bronx are pleading with state lawmakers to restore the funding they cut from the budget.
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, 10-year-old Melanie Martinez’s school days are filled with a lot more than reading and writing.
“They help me stay healthy by doing my procedure every day,” she said.
She was diagnosed with bladder cancer when she was a baby and requires cauterization to empty her bladder every day at 11:30 a.m. – a procedure that’s performed inside the halls of P.S. 85 in the Bronx.
“The clinic lets me have a normal life, because I just have to come down and I don’t miss a lot of time,” said Martinez.
Gina Argueta has been a nurse at the school-based health clinic for 16 years.
“This is a lot more than Tylenol and a BandAid,” she said. “There are kids that come here who have diabetes. There are kids that come here that sometimes receive other treatments. They need their trachs cleaned.”
All the medical, dental and health care services are completely free to children. Those who don’t have insurance, don’t pay a dime. That’s why these school-based health clinics rely so heavily on state funding, which was just cut by $3.8 million in the state budget last year, Moore reported.
“We make a huge difference in so many kids’ lives,” said Dr. David Appel, who founded the Montifiore school-based health program, with clinics in 26 Bronx schools.
His is one of more than 150 similar programs across New York City now in jeopardy of closing or shrinking if state lawmakers don’t restore the millions of dollars in slashed funding.
“It’s penny wise and pound foolish. The money spent here not only saves the state money, it keeps kids in school,” Appel said. “We really need the Senate and the Assembly to put $4 million into the state budget.”
CBS2’s reached out to the state to find out why millions of dollars were cut from the program, but all they would say is budget negotiations are ongoing.