Merced Union High School District is set to open a new school-based health center in summer 2015 and it will be the first such facility in Merced County. You can read more about this planned SBHC from this story in the Merced Sun Star.
By Doane Yawger – Originally published in the Merced Sun Star on December 24, 2014.
By next summer, a school-based health center will be located on the Livingston High School campus, a move heralded by educators and medical officials as the wave of the future. This will be the first such center in Merced County.
Among those most excited about the school-based health center’s prospects is Tammie Calzadillas, the Merced Union High School District’s assistant superintendent for educational services. Another major advocate is Livingston High principal Ralph Calderon.
“It’s exciting,” Calzadillas said. “In the high school district we have an opportunity to educate the whole child. We want to make sure we do things right. We will have care coordination teams on the school sites who will put protocols in place.”
Calzadillas said there is no formal time line yet for the health center opening other than getting it running in the next school year.
Calderon said 90 percent of the students at Livingston High are classified as living in poverty. He said people don’t realize how hard it is for children to get the medical care that others take for granted.
A memorandum of understanding between MUHSD trustees and Livingston Community Health Services was ratified Dec. 10; it’s the culmination of a five-year relationship between the school and the health clinic.
Leslie McGowan, Livingston Community Health Services chief executive officer, said she is hoping a clinic will be open on a part-time basis at Livingston High next summer. It could become a full-time operation about three months later if approval is granted by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
“We’re very excited about the program,” McGowan said. “ It’s definitely a way to get health care where the kids and their families are. It’s a great day in the health care industry.”
Community Health Services sent an architect to the high school to lay out a floor plan using two classrooms for the clinic. The school will be able to make room for the clinic in classrooms not yet used when the campus was recently remodeled and expanded.
McGowan said the clinic could include a physician who is a primary-care provider, possibly a licensed community social worker to address mental health issues and a dentist.
Livingston High School has about 1,200 students.
Scott Scambray, high school district superintendent, said he is very excited about the health center concept and how important it will be in keeping students in school.
“It allows us to be proactive and not reactive,” Scambray said. “Keeping students in the classroom is the No. 1 goal. We are proud of our attendance figures but would like to improve attendance even more.”
The health center was identified as a top need when the school’s Local Control Accountability Plan was developed.
A group of MUHSD administrators recently toured Kerman-Floyd Elementary School in Kerman, part of the school district run by Robert Frausto, a former assistant superintendent with the Merced City School District.
Frausto said the school-based health center there is in its second year of operation and has worked out well, beyond his expectations.
“It’s been real positive,” Frausto said. “Attendance went up as a result. It is open for staff as well. The goal is we want to get kids back in class as soon as possible rather than utilizing doctors in Kerman or Fresno.”