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Mixed feelings on health center

Sherwood School District is considering a school-run health center

The Sherwood School Board is expected to continue discussions on whether the district should pursue a school-base health facility.

The board planned to further delve into the issue at a Feb. 28 work session, which occurred after the Gazette went to press. Superintendent Dan Jamison said representatives from Washington County Commission on Children and Families were expected to answer questions from the board.

He emphasized that the district is in the very early exploration stages seeing if such a center is needed or wanted.

"I suspect this will be an ongoing discussion even after the work session," said Jamison.

The issue was briefly discussed during the Feb. 14 board meeting.

He said that in the immediate area, only one school, Merlo Station High School in the Beaverton School District, has a small health center.

The superintendent said more and more medical delivery professionals are investing in this type of program because it saves money on long-term health care. He noted that a portion of the center's funding could come from the federal government.

"We conservatively estimate we would receive $20,000 a year and as much as $50,000 just by claiming for the services that we are already providing," said Jamison.

Jamison talked about the possibility of partnering with other schools such as the Tigard-Tualatin School District, which is discussing starting up such a center.

Lisa Church, a nurse in the Sherwood School District, told board members she encounters students almost every day who lack health insurance or are underinsured. She said there are no nearby facilities where students could go if they lack funds to pay for health care.

"I could see there would be a lot of students taking part," Church said of a health center.

In his eight years on the Sherwood School Board, Wayne Lowry said the subject of such a center has never come up and he had some questions.

"To me, this is kind of a scary, spooky area," he said, adding he's heard some "horror stories" from other districts who have opened similar centers.

For the Feb. 28 work session, Lowry said he was interested in more information on the numbers of uninsured or underinsured students throughout the district.

Lowry also wanted information on what type of parental notification would be involved if the district treated students.

He added when discussing such a proposal, "The whole contraceptive question has to be dealt with at some point."

Still, Lowery added, "I think it might be time to at least take a look at it."

Jamison later noted that it's not a foregone conclusion that such a center would necessarily be located at Sherwood High school.