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District mulls health center options

Discussions on whether the Sherwood School District should pursue some sort of school-based health facility are expected to continue with no imminent decision expected.

During a February work session, the board heard from representatives from the Washington County Commission on Children and Families, a nurse and a nurse practitioner in what Superintendent Dan Jamison called the beginning of an ongoing conversation.

Currently, the state has 44 certified Oregon School-Based Health Centers with three others in the planning stage. Multnomah County has the largest number with 12 located at middle or high schools.

Lisa Church, a Sherwood School District nurse, told board members that she has dealt with issues ranging from a toe infection to students who needed glasses, problems that could have been addressed in a school-based health clinic.

Jackie Rose, a nurse practitioner at Oregon City High School's school-based health center, said in order to be certified by the state, the centers must have a clinic and provide services 20 hours a week so there is the ability to continue the treatment of a patient on an ongoing basis.

The centers also provide some mental health care services, she said.

'I think everyone now realizes that you need mental health services,' said Rose. The school-based health center in Oregon City has a secretary, a nurse practitioner and a half-time mental health professional.

In response to a question by board member Wayne Lowry regarding who decides on what services are provided, Rose said it's a joint effort.

During an earlier meeting, Wayne Lowry, a Sherwood School Board member, said that the whole issue of contraception had to be dealt with at some point.

Rose said that in Oregon City, 'contraceptive services have never been provided.' Still, Rose said if a health center doesn't provide the service, students need to be advised where they can go for such services. If you don't there could be an issue of liability, she pointed out.

Since many community members have questions about the centers, those residents are often asked to join a school-based health center board. In Oregon City, one of its board members is the pastor of a local church, said Rose.

Jamison said the discussions on whether the district wants a school-based health center is expected to continue.

'This is just a very modest, initial exploration,' Jamison said. 'We are studying it.'

The district also is talking to providers like Providence to see if there is interest in some type of joint venture.

Still, Jamison said the district is in no hurry to jump into anything.

'I think it's fair to say we have another year of study,' he said.

Fast facts on School-Based Health Centers

In the 2005-2006 service year, there were:

-- 44 total centers in 17 Oregon counties

-- 28 centers are in high schools, 8 are in middle schools and 7 are in elementary schools.

-- 39,249 students had access to the centers.

-- 20,177 clients were served in 63,863 visits. Of those 59 percent were female, making up 64 percent of the total visits.

-- 42 percent of center clients had no insurance.

-- 60 percent reported they were unlikely to receive care outside the center.

-- 68 percent of students said their health was better because of the centers.

Source: School-Based Health Center: 2007 Status Report