Building Better Access to Care, in Schools & Homes

Hazel now serves districts representing 1.5 million K-12 students and announces Series C funding.

We are living in an incredible time and a unique moment in history. The daily headlines of COVID-19, rising unemployment, and families reaching the limit of their resources for shelter or healthcare, are juxtaposed with stories of hope, generosity and joy. As a CEO, and the CEO of Hazel specifically, it is a time of enormous reflection and also a time where our mission and services are more relevant than ever.  

Hazel was founded upon the belief that all children deserve access to quality healthcare in order to excel throughout their lives. In order to reach as many children as possible, Hazel serves children in schools, providing instant support to many common health concerns and allowing children to return to the classroom to continue learning. Hazel brings educators, school nurses, healthcare professionals and families together to provide a new way to partner with districts and ensure whole child engagement and access to ongoing healthcare. Through this work with our partner school districts, we have learned that even though many working families have healthcare available, there are challenges in navigating the system and embedding preventative care. 

The response from districts and families has validated the need, with 90% of eligible families choosing to enroll in the program. Engagement has been incredibly high at 70% in the first year, well above the 10% industry standard for telehealth. More than 40% of our families indicate that they do not have a primary care physician, therefore typically relying on costly ER and urgent care. 

The people who work in districts across the U.S. are our heroes and we partner with them on the frontlines to eliminate barriers to healthcare and to transform communities. Our partners range from large urban school districts like Denver Public Schools and Clark County School District to smaller, rural districts in the Central Valley of California. While the demographics may vary, the need for easy access to quality healthcare is constant. These partnerships have demonstrated the impact of providing access to healthcare services: increased attendance for children, decreased parental time away from work and more support for district personnel to ensure the health of children. We are continually awed by the heroic efforts school nurses and educators put forth each day to service children and we are humbled to work alongside them.  

Hazel has also seen the power of telehealth as a tool to complement, rather than replace, community-based care. When our patients have primary care providers, we coordinate with them to ensure continuity of care. When families tell us they do not have a PCP, we connect them to local pediatricians or community based clinics to help them establish a medical home. One of our earliest partners is the Livingston Community Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) that is celebrating their 50th anniversary serving California’s Central Valley. We have worked together to increase access to care. As their CEO Leslie Abasta-Cummings shared “Our providers have done amazing work caring for our community, and continue to raise the bar in finding new and innovative ways to provide care throughout the global health crisis. Hazel Health has been a great partner to us, and we have a shared vision for improving healthcare access for underserved communities. Hazel Health’s expertise and partnership with schools has improved healthcare access for many of our existing patients. In addition, Hazel has been able to help connect many children who were not previously receiving care to our primary care physicians to ensure they have an ongoing medical home.”

While we are proud of our results, we are most inspired by the stories from the students and families we serve. I remember the phone call I received from Superintendent Adolfo Melara, who reached me on a Saturday to share that “Hazel saved a life this week” after one of Hazel’s amazing providers had performed a series of assessments for a young girl who was experiencing headaches and ultimately led to the identification and treatment of a brain abscess. I remember the 7th grader who had missed more than 22 days of school the previous year, but after a Hazel provider diagnosed the child with asthma and began treatment, he missed only five days of the school the following year. 

As communities across the U.S. have been ravaged by the pandemic, our mission has remained strong and, due to demand, our services have been extended to support children in their homes. Families across the U.S. are already using Hazel at Home, telehealth for families. Hazel at Home bridges the gap to offer care for all students, in all communities and ensures continuity of care. Hazel is doing this work actively collaborating with districts in planning safe and reliable health management – be it in the school classroom, the home, or both. 

 In order to better serve our communities and provide preventative healthcare to more students, Hazel has raised Series C funding, led by Owl Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures, with additional funding by Uprising, UCSF Foundation Investment Company, and Centene Corporation.

Additionally, Hazel is working with existing partner insurance providers within school districts to increase access and close the gap in care for all children. Hazel currently works with U.S. districts representing over 1.5M students of the 60M students nationally. 

We’re extremely thankful and excited to continue spreading Hazel’s mission with our network of families, licensed medical staff, and school nurses. We promise to remain steadfast in helping ensure every student has access to quality healthcare.

This blog was written by Josh Golomb, CEO, Hazel Health.