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School health clinic to open

The new school-based heath center will open up health care to uninsured students in the district
by: Jaime Valdez, A SHOT AT HEALTH – Tigard High Health Clinic family nurse practitioner Margaret Stochosky walks through the laboratory room as she and other workers prepare for the grand opening of the school-based health center next week.

TIGARD - The Tigard-Tualatin School District found the funding, the medical service provider and the room to house the first school-based health center in eastern Washington County.

Now all Margaret Stochosky, the center's family nurse practitioner, has to find for the clinic is 'our place in the community.'

That shouldn't be too hard for the clinic which could open the door of health care to hundreds of uninsured students in the district and which is being boasted as the first school-based health center in Washington County with a sustainable financial mode.

On Wednesday, April 9, Gov. Ted Kulongoski is expected to lead a grand opening event for the new Tigard High School Health Center. The center is opening about three months behind schedule. It was supposed to open in January, but delays in construction pushed back the date, said district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon.

The clinic will be staffed with a nurse practitioner, office assistant and a qualified mental health professional. The medical sponsor, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, will employ the staff. Funding in this first year comes from the state, the sponsor and from grants, including a $40,000 grant from Columbia-Willamette United Way and a $200,000 grant from Providence Partners in Health.

Services at the clinic will include routine physical exams and screenings, treating minor injuries, diagnosing and treating illnesses, immunizations, prescriptions, mental health counseling and reproductive health exams.

The clinic will have a soft opening on Monday, April 7. Stochosky expects the clinic to see a lot of the regulars for clinic visits in the first few weeks. From the flu and allergies to sports related injuries and headaches, Stochosky said she's expecting to see 'the typical stuff you see when you put 2,000 people in a building together.'

While the clinic will be opened to all students in the district and a family therapist at the clinic will provide extended hours, Stark Haydon said that Tigard High and Durham Center students are expected to utilize the clinic the most in this first year of operation. But district officials and parents who participated in the committee that explored the issues associated with a school-based health center are also expecting more to come from the health center.

In February, the school district provided immunization shots to 24 students whose parents found that without the required shots their children wouldn't be able to attend school.

The district, which offered the immunization clinic through its family resource center at Tigard High, didn't have enough shots for all the students that showed up. Stark Haydon said the hope is that next year through the services of the clinic, there will be enough immunizations.

According to Oregon Health Policy and Research data for 2006, about 15,000 children, ages 0 to 17, in Washington County did not have health insurance.

School-based health centers are designed to provide health care services to students regardless of their ability to pay. The clinics also help give students with health insurance easier access to health care.

Stochosky was the family practical nurse at the school-based health center in Oregon City when officials approached her about joining the staff for Tigard-Tualatin's health center. And after seeing the response from the Tigard-Tualatin School District and its community in organizing its first clinic, Stochosky said she was impressed.

'The Tigard-Tualatin School District should be applauded for what it's done,' Stochosky said.

At a Glance

What: Tigard High School Health Clinic grand opening

When: Wednesday, April 9, 10 to 11 a.m.

Where: Tigard High parking lot, 9000 S.W. Durham Road