$40k award to be used for planning, public outreach

The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County has been awarded a $40,000 grant to assist in the planning of a school-based health center in Scappoose, Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday, July 2.

The purpose of a school-based health center — exemplified by Sacagawea Health Center in St. Helens — is to provide a clinic for students at school. Kaiser described them as being able to serve as “a one-stop location for primary care, mental health, oral health and health prevention services.”

The Scappoose School District does not currently have a school-based health center, or SBHC, at any of its schools.

Sherrie Ford, the Public Health Foundation’s SBHC coordinator, said the Kaiser grant will be used to kick off a public process to determine whether a clinic should be opened in a Scappoose school.

“It’s a planning grant, so it will fund a lot of community engagement and conversation between Public Health, the school district, other health care providers to talk about school-based health centers,” Ford said. “There’s no commitment with the funds that at the end of the grant period, we have to have a school-based health center open.”

There are benefits to SBHCs beyond simply providing primary care to students who may be unable to see a doctor due to financial, scheduling or transportation constraints, Ford said. A clinic can also provide mental health support, including long-term counseling for serious issues.

“I know that things like suicide and suicide prevention have been a really big issue in the community lately,” said Ford.

The next step will be the formation of an SBHC planning committee, Ford said. Its work could include holding public forums and collecting data from the community.

“It would be probably late July or early August we’ll really start diving into the process,” said Ford.

Attempts to reach Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A total of $610,000 in grants were given out by Kaiser Permanente Northwest for SBHCs in Oregon, according to Wednesday’s announcement. Another $40,000 was awarded to the Cowlitz Family Health Center for planning for a new SBHC in Longview, Washington.

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