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Columbus City Schools Appoints First-Ever Medical Consultant From Nationwide Children's Hospital

Champion Middle School in Columbus.
Mary Rathke

Columbus City Schools has hired the first-ever medical consultant for the district.

Dr. Sara Bode of Nationwide Children's Hospital will partner with the district as its medical consultant for this school year. Bode is the medical director of Nationwide Children's Care Connection School-Based Health and Mobile Clinics.

Bode's role will be to work with the district's health services team to advise on best health care practice policies, including those related to COVID-19. She says she'll help set up school buildings so that students, teachers and staff have easy access to health services in the future.

"Not just for checkups, but for mental health, for dental, for vision, what could that look like across the district, and so really thinking about those future-forward plans too is a part of my role," she said.

Bode said after seeing the effect the pandemic has had on children's health, CCS superintendent Talisa Dixon reached out to her to help out with the wellness policies of the school district.

"And so she reached out to me and we had a call together where we brainstormed some ideas of what it could look like, we both got pretty excited and so came up with this as a job and position to help move the district forward," she said.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a state of emergency in children's mental health, citing the effects COVID-19 has had on it.

Bode said not only will she be focusing on advising health practices on the pandemic, but also mental health services for students, teachers and staff that have struggled during the pandemic.

"I'm going to be working with Dr. Dixon, I know there's wellness week that's coming up in November," Bode said. "But part of that, she's mentioned it's not just a week, it's thinking about what are those wellness strategies we can put in place for the rest of the school year to lift all of us up and support together through this time."

In a press release, Dixon touted Bode's expertise in pediatrics, saying that it would be valuable as the community continues to figure out how to navigate the pandemic.

"Dr. Bode has been a trusted advisor and resource throughout the pandemic, and we are excited to have her on our team in a larger role through this new partnership with Nationwide Children's Hospital," Dixon said.

Prior to the appointment as a consultant, Bode said she had been working with CCS in an unofficial capacity for six years through her job at Nationwide Children's.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.