Oakland opens four school health centers in four months

The Oakland Unified School District is on quite a roll. Since the start of the school year, four school-based health centers have opened their doors to sparkling new facilities that offer medical, mental and/or dental health care, health education and youth leadership programs.

havenscourtIt is part of the district’s effort to expand their school-based health centers as they transform into a Full-Service Community District, where schools leverage community partnerships to improve academic, physical, social and emotional outcomes for students.

“The number of school health centers has continued to grow, despite our weak economy, because schools, providers and communities know that supporting healthy children is a smart investment. In 2000, California had 108 school health centers; today, there are 183,” said Serena Clayton, Executive Director of the California School Health Centers Association. She noted that Alameda County is recognized nationally for using creative strategies and partnerships to grow the school-based health center initiative.

“The Oakland Unified School District has been at the forefront of this growth by engaging local partners, tapping local resources such as facilities bonds, and applying for government and philanthropic grants,” Clayton said. “Oakland’s leaders place a high value on the fact that a school is the institution that touches almost all children. If we want to make sure that children and youth get health care, it just makes sense to put health care where they are — at school. At the same time, by increasing access to health care, we are ensuring that young people are healthy and ready to learn.”

Oakland expects to have 15 school-based health centers by June 2012. The expansion is possible due to funding from Kaiser Permanente, the Atlantic Philanthropies Elev8 Initiative, bond measure funds, the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and other generous donations.

“School-based health centers are a proven model of public sector collaboration. They have helped us define the nexus of public health and public education,” said Alex Briscoe, Director of Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.  “School-based health centers are also an entrepreneurial and innovative approach to social justice and health equity, with a large percentage of the operating budgets of SBHCs generated by billing third-party payers. This aggressive pursuit of outside revenues for school-based services is critical as schools struggle with ongoing challenges to their fiscal viability.”

Oakland’s SBHC openings since September 2011 

Shop 55 Wellness Center at Oakland High School
This is a newly renovated site. The original site was inside the former auto and woodshop class, a cavernous building with high ceilings not designed for health care services. The new site includes exam rooms as well as a meeting space for student groups. The East Bay Asian Youth Center operates the site and medical services are provided by Asian Health Services.

Frick Health Center at Frick Middle School
This new site has two medical exam rooms, a laboratory, three confidential consult rooms, a school nurse’s office, and a conference room to hold workshops and conduct youth development programs. The East Bay Agency for Children operates the site and provides mental health services. The Native American Health Center (NAHC) provides medical services.

Havenscourt Health Center at Havenscourt Middle School
This new site has two exam rooms, three consulting rooms, a dental clinic, offices and a conference room. The site will serve middle and high school students. La Clinica de La Raza operates the site and provides the medical and dental health services. The East Bay Agency for Children operates the site and provides mental health services. The Native American Health Center (NAHC) provides medical services.

students cutting ribbon

Skyline students cut ribbon on new SBHC.

Skyline Health Center at Skyline High School
While Skyline High students have had access to mental health services for several years, this new health center is the first time they have access to comprehensive medical care. The school-based health center is in a renovated portable and has two medical exam rooms, a laboratory and three confidential consultation rooms. Native American Health Center operates the site. Read more about the Skyline opening in the Oakland Tribune.

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