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With the newly constructed facility, high school in Oak Grove no longer has to rely on van in parking lot

North Clackamas School District officials celebrated the official opening of Rex Putnam's new $1.3 million Student Health Center last month.

PHOTO BY: MADISON DALLING-RAISNER - Rex Putnam senior Myri Dublin cuts the ribbon on the high school's new health center on Jan. 26. Looking on, from left, are NCSD Director of Social Services Michael Ralls, Dr. Wayne Sells and Superintendent Matt Utterback.NCSD's construction of the health center was made possible by local voters' 2016 approval of a $433 million bond sale to help fund various projects throughout the district.

NCSD Board Chair Rein Vaga credited the district's director of social services with successfully gathering together other funding streams to make the Rex Putnam project a reality. The feds chipped in $90,000 for the health center through a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Michael Ralls has a tremendous track record for going to the county or whoever and asking for funding," Vaga said. "We will continue to work on health care at all levels."

Superintendent Matt Utterback helped cut the ribbon Jan. 26 on the new health center.

"This one is close to many of our hearts because it continues our school district's efforts to take care of the whole child," Utterback said. "We need those partners to be able to provide those services, and we couldn't do it without you."

One of those partners is Dr. Wayne Sells of Outside In, who also is an adolescent physician at Oregon Health & Science University. Sells said that students often show up for pain and end up also receiving mental health treatment.

"Sometimes the stress shows up as stomachaches or headaches," Sells said.

PHOTO BY: MADISON DALLING-RAISNER - About 100 people attended the Jan. 26 opening of the Rex Putnam High School health center.Sells' own children attended Portland's Lincoln High School.

"We don't have a school health center, so every time I come here I get jealous," he said. "It's just such a blessing to have such a beautiful facility."

In addition to treatment of general mental and physical health concerns, the health center will provide sports physicals, vision exams, hearing screenings, vaccines and dental cleanings. During a check-up, health practitioners will commonly address students' concerns about relationships, sexual health, bullying, diet and drug/alcohol experimentation.

Fliers posted in exam rooms warn that there are 9.5 million new sexually transmitted diseases annually among 15-24 year olds, according to studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flier also reminds patients that young adults are four to five times more likely to abuse alcohol as adults if they start drinking at an early age.

Every student entering the health center is notified of the clinic's privacy policy, which relates to the fact that the clinic staffers are mandated reporters to DHS. Jenn Lucas, the clinic's family nurse practitioner, said that these rules usually relate to child abuse, or a student's stated plans to hurt themselves or someone else.

"We'll talk to the patient directly when we let them know that we'll have to call the DHS hotline," Lucas said. "Sometimes the student chooses to stay while the call is made to Child Protective Services."

Rex Putnam senior Myri Dublin expressed appreciation for the health center on behalf of students. Students on the Milwaukie High Youth Advisory Council have mentored students on the Putnam High Student Wellness Advisory Team (who have T-shirts with the acronym SWAT). Prior to the opening of the new facility, students had to access health services out of a van in the high school's parking lot.

"Thank you to everyone who played a part in getting the health center here — whether big or small — your contributions made an impact," Dublin said.

In separate projects to be completed from $5.2 million set aside for bond funds, Rex Putnam also is getting more security cameras, better technology access, seismic upgrades, window replacement, roof repairs, interior/exterior painting, pavement repairs, heating/cooling system upgrades, generator replacement and various upgrades on sports facilities.

Rex Putnam's health center is still settling on hours of operation. If you have questions or wish to make an appointment, call 503-353-5884.

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