By Lanz Christian Bañes, Vallejo Times Herald
Student health was the topic Thursday during a visit by Rep. Mike Thompson to a Vallejo elementary school.
“I’ve got great admiration for what you’re doing,” said Thompson, D-St. Helena, to the staff of the Elsa Widenmann Elementary School health and dental clinics.
Thompson took a quick tour of the facilities, the only student dental clinic in the Vallejo City Unified School District and one of two health clinics. The other is at Pennycook Elementary School.
Thompson also met with a few families whose children use the clinics as part of their regular health care.
“Are you doctors here?” Thompson said to a pair of wide-eyed girls from Highland Elementary School, who were there with their grandmother.
The health clinic provides physical exams, immunizations and treatment for minor injuries, while the dental clinic gives dental screenings.
The dental clinic was established in 2012, thanks to an annual $200,000 four-year grant from the Solano Coalition for Better Health. That organization is currently pursuing new funds to keep the dental clinic self-sustaining.
Indeed, it is the issue of funding that brought Thompson to the two clinics, located side-by-side behind the main Widenmann campus.
Thompson is a cosponsor of H.R. 2632, the School-based Health Centers Program Reauthorization Act that would continue for five years the funding of clinics like those at Widenmann or Pennycook.
The original bill included $30 million for capital and start-up expenses, said Lisa White with the California School-Based Health Alliance. White added that she hopes the current bill will include money for operating the health centers — an ongoing issue for cash-strapped districts.
Widenmann was far from the first student health clinic Thompson has visited.
“Every place I go, the results have been fantastic,” Thompson said.
The Widenmann clinics at 100 Whitney Ave. are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Pennycook clinic at 3620 Fernwood Ave. is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.