Students taking advantage of Rogers High School’s new health clinic
SPOKANE, Wash. — Being a high school student can be difficult, especially when you are juggling school work, jobs and their social lives. Getting a wellness check from the doctor might be a chore for some, but now with a clinic on campus, they can easily get to a doctors appointment.
Rogers High School is the only high school in Spokane that has a medical clinic on campus for students. It is run by the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS) with a grant from Kaiser Permanente. Staff at CHAS said it’s particularly needed in this school, as it has the highest free and reduced lunches in the Spokane Public School District at 78 percent on the program.
For about 1,500 students at the high school, it’s just as easy as walking down the hallway to get that medical help. Where the health clinic is located now, it used to be a classroom for student Grace Wilkinson.
“I thought it was a great, great thing for them to want to do that and come here and be able to help the community out,” she said.
At any time of day, students can walk in and get the help they need.
“We found that school-based health centers really make a difference in kids’ lives. When those are present, kids have better attendance rates and they have better grades,” said Deborah Wiser, the chief clinical officer with CHAS.
That’s what staff at Rogers High is hoping for, along with giving kids easier access to get the health care. They provide care like any other CHAS clinic’s like mental health help, coughs, colds, sexually transmitted infection testing and more.
“This is the time when people start making decisions that affect their health for the rest of their lives and being able to being involved in that level is a really impactful thing that we provide here,” Wiser said.
There are three rooms in the clinic, two exam rooms and one for behavioral health. Wiser said the behavioral health provider has been on campus for months and is about full with appointments everyday.
While Grace is lucky enough to have parents who can help guide her in health care advice, not all students are.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the people who don’t have that kind of guardian in their life to help them through that stuff,” she said.
“This is also a time of increasing independence. Kids need to learn how to navigate the health system a little more themselves during this time,” Wiser said.
Johnnie Beans, the school outreach specialist with CHAS, said that the program doesn’t only help students, it helps parents.
“A lot of times parents can’t get off of work to take their kids to appointments, so to have the clinic right here on-site for the kids makes it very convenient for them to establish care, primary health care and its a very good thing,” Beans said.
There is some criticism out there, though. Some parents are concerned that having a clinic on campus, it would keep adults out of the loop for the care of their child. This was a concern for some parents who testified against Senate Bill 6563, a legislation that wants to create a law to authorize having school-based health centers. There are currently loopholes to get clinics on school campuses.
“We aren’t providing anything that isn’t allowed from a legal standpoint. We are providing improved access to care,” Wiser said.
The clinic will let any students get help, regardless if they have insurance or not.
The clinic is open for only students right now, but will possibly be able to accommodate staff and parents in the future.
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