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Hillsboro district readies first school-based health center

After a more than three years in the planning and a couple of hiccups, Hillsboro School District’s school-based health center is about to open to district students and staff.

Hillsboro School District is scheduled to turn over the keys to Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center on or about Jan. 30, said Adam Stewart, the district’s chief financial officer.

Hillsboro’s school-based health center, to be located at Century High School, is the fourth of its kind in Washington County. Forest Grove, Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin school districts also have on-campus health centers.

Virginia Garcia staff will manage the clinic, providing services from immunizations and sports physicals to mental health care and care for sore throats and sniffles.

The clinic will be staffed by a family nurse practitioner and a mental health care provider, says Charles Ashou, Virginia Garcia’s School-Based Health Center manager. Center staff will also handle medical record management and billing, he says.

Virginia Garcia is the medical sponsor at the school-based health centers in Forest Grove and Tigard-Tualatin and most recently took over the management of the center in Willamina, Ashou says.

The idea of a school-based health clinic, Ashou says, is to offer accessible, convenient health care for students. “They help facilitate access to comprehensive, preventive health care and mental health care to keep kids healthy and ready to learn,” according to a brochure produced for the Tigard-Tualatin health center.

Down the line, Ashou says, Virginia Garcia hopes to offer dental cleanings with a grant the clinic received from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund.

An advisory board made up of a school district representative, community members, faith leaders, Ashou and students will advise the Virginia Garcia team on the clinic’s services and operation.

“The students are the consumers,” Ashou says.

The school district’s role in the health center after opening, Stewart says, is minimal. The district gathered community input, secured grants to build and oversaw the health center’s building process, Stewart says, but once the clinic opens, the district will be responsible only for the cost of utilities, custodial services and maintenance.

Century High School was chosen early in the planning process, Stewart says, “because of its location in relation to the majority of our students and proximity to public transportation.”

Neighbors adjacent to the school’s north parking lot voiced opposition early on to the clinic’s site placement. The prefabricated building, similar to the “portable classrooms” at many of the district’s schools, was originally set to be placed at the far north end of the school’s north parking lot, abutting the Kensington Gardens neighborhood.

Residents there were concerned that the building was too far removed from the school building itself. District officials then relocated the site next to the high school’s track and closer to the school.

The site work and pre-fab building, now nearing completion, was funded by a $500,000 federal grant from Health Resources and Services Administration. The district also received a $60,000 grant from Washington County Commission on Children and Families. It wasn’t until the third call for bids that the district was able to find contractors to install the pre-fab building within budget. The school board gave the go-ahead in August for Evergreen Pacific to do the site work for $179,000 and Payne Construction to provide the building for $224,400.

Hours for the center have not been established, Ashou says, but will likely be geared toward times when students have free time — before and after school. The agreement between Virginia Garcia and the school district states that the clinic will be open at least 24 hours each week.

The center will be open to all Hillsboro School District students and staff, whether insured or not, Ashou says. He emphasizes that it’s not a free medical care clinic, but is a “federally qualified health center,” so must follow guidelines and provide discounts based on a patient’s ability to pay.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 8, Ashou says. The center staff hopes to start providing services by mid-February.

In the meantime, a group of Century High School students in the health services program are setting up a marketing plan to get the word out about the new health center.




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  • 21 Aug 2014

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  • 22 Aug 2014

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