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School-based health center opening delayed

The Tigard-Tualatin School District plans to offer sports physicals and an immunization clinic in February

TIGARD - The Tigard-Tualatin school-based health center at Tigard High will not be opening on time.

The center, which was slated to open in January, isn't expected to officially open its doors until sometime in March. District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon said district work crews have been too busy dealing with other maintenance and improvement issues to finish work on the remodel for the rooms that will house the center.

'We're behind for sure,' Stark Haydon said of the center, which was approved by the School Board in September.

Crews will work over winter break and through the month of January to get the center ready for equipment, Stark Haydon said.

But the district and the medical sponsor, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, plan to hold an immunization clinic and a sports physical clinic at Tigard High in February.

The health center will be the first school-based health clinic in the district and in eastern Washington County.

A committee made up of parents and community members spent months pouring over information and meeting with Washington County health officials and members of the School-based Health Centers Program to iron out details of the district's first school-based health center.

Some of the bigger issues were funding, privacy laws, finding a facility and contraceptives. The latter issue was discussed at length by the committee, which ultimately recommended that contraceptives not be distributed at the school clinic, although committee members and district officials have noted that the issue could be considered again sometime in the future. The most important issue for committee members, however, was just getting the clinic doors open.

A school-based health center is defined as a primary care clinic located in a school that provides health care to students regardless of their ability to pay.

In the 46 school-based health centers in Oregon, about 42 percent of students who access the centers are uninsured. Supporters of school-based health centers note that the clinics not only give uninsured children a ready access to health care but also give students with busy parents easy access to health care.

And while the center would physically be located at Tigard High, its services would be extended to students in all Tigard-Tualatin schools. School Board and committee members discussed the availability of transportation for students at other schools wishing to use the Tigard High clinic.

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

The center will be staffed with a nurse practitioner, office assistant and a qualified mental health professional.

Stark Haydon said that the district and the advisory committee will begin in January to work on an informational campaign to inform parents about the school-based health center and its services in order to start getting students signed up for the clinic.