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Aloha school becomes health clinic for a day

Free vision, dental and other screenings provided to parents of Aloha-Huber Park K-8 parents

TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Optometric Physician Remy J. Delplanche (right) gives an eye test to Uriel Anava at Aloha-Huber Park School.Schools, naturally, are geared toward helping their students.

But sometimes, it’s harder for kids to learn if their parents aren’t healthy.

Aloha-Huber Park K-8 School thinks it has found just the prescription: A free health clinic for parents.

Staff, medical providers and volunteers including Lions Club members opened up the campus on a recent no-school day to give a variety of health screenings, including eye, dental and hearing exams, blood-pressure checks and blood-glucose tests.

“The biggest thing for me is, I serve my students best by helping take care of their families,” said Kim Bartholomew, a district registered nurse whose assignment includes Aloha-Huber Park.

Bartholomew organized the clinic for parents, with lots of assistance to pull it off.

She said the original idea — a first in the Beaverton School District — grew quickly from a chance meeting with David Rich while they both waited for service at a Comcast office.

She already knew Rich from his work as president of the Beaverton Lions Club; the Lions’ major service mission — providing free or low-cost glasses and hearing aids — already has helped district students.

They had talked about how the Lions help families as far away as Peru overcome sight and hearing losses, so why not closer to home?

“Kim and I met and we thought ‘What if?’ and this is what came about,” said Rich, who also volunteered at the event with fellow club members. “It’s all about helping those less fortunate than we are.”

“It takes a community to raise a child. Sometimes a parent can’t do it on their own,” Bartholomew said. “We have some amazing families, and not all of them have the same access to health care as we do.”

Aloha Huber-Park is a neighborhood elementary school combined with an options program for a smaller number of middle-schoolers.

It serves one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Beaverton School District and has a high percentage of students who are not native English speakers, but it has won acclaim because its students achieve higher test scores than most other schools with similar demographics.TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Teacher Marta Tellez (left) takes the blood pressure of Eva Natividad, whose daughter Yaizza attends Aloha-Huber Park School.

Bartholomew believes much of that success hinges on the school’s administrators and educators willingness to try new approaches, which is why Bartholomew went to Principal Scott Drue with the clinic idea. He readily approved and the school’s parent-teacher group pitched in with snacks for parents, who were asked to fast for more accurate blood test results.

Bartholomew hopes the free clinic idea can be replicated at other Beaverton schools with high numbers of families that can’t afford adequate health care.

“I would love to, absolutely. The need’s definitely there; we know that,” agreed Laura Van Dyke, one of the district nurses who volunteered to help at Aloha Huber-Park. “We’re really trying to find resources for students as well as parents. Oftentimes the parent goes without.”

Nathan Havner, the school’s student supervisor, said health care issues at home often spill into the classroom.

In fact, on the day of the clinic (Jan. 29), he learned that a young student who had been acting out unusually at school was likely reacting to his mother’s recent hospitalization.

But Havner only learned about it when the mother arrived at the clinic for testing.

“This is how the community is connected,” Havner said. “That kind of resource is what I think our school should be.”

Pedro Cruz has a daughter at the school, and she asked him to go to the clinic.

“I said, ‘OK. Sign me up,” said the dad, who took some time off his job remodeling houses and was happy with his screening results. “The last time I had a good checkup was maybe a year and a half ago.”

Maria Luisa, 43, the parent of three Aloha-Huber Park students, previously had some blood pressure problems in Mexico, but she was relieved to see improvement when tested at the school, she said in Spanish through an interpreter.

The clinic was set up with a variety of stations scattered around the front of the school.

In one corner of the cafeteria, local dentist Dr. Erik Smith was giving quick exams and identifying patients who needed follow-ups elsewhere.

“My job is just to screen for the most urgent things,” Smith said.

In an office up front, Dr. Remy Delplanche used a vintage 1948 phoropter affixed to a piece of treated lumber to give basic eye exams. He found a few conditions that will need referrals for additional care or surgery.

“This is ground zero where a lot of people need assistance,” Delplanche said.

Parents could get a prescription and buy glasses for as little as $30 at the clinic, thanks to the Lions Club.

“Parents who can see can read with children. It’s just that simple,” Bartholomew said. “That’s what it’s all about, taking care of kids.”

Bartholomew said she will work with families who need additional health care but don’t have the financial resources or their own connections in the medical community.

“Truly, a lot of times it’s just the tip of the iceberg and they need other help,” she said. “When we uncover the needs, we can take the initiative and help with those needs.”