By Allison Chan, BSN, RN, PHN
The Barbara Lee Center for Health & Wellness is located in San Leandro, California in Alameda County. Unlike most other school-based health centers, the Barbara Lee Center is a “school-linked health center,” which means the health center is located off campus, but also is conveniently located right across the street from San Leandro High School! Being a school-linked health center means it’s a partner with San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) and has the ability to serve any student within SLUSD and their direct family members.
SLUSD was the leading agency in building the Barbara Lee Center, with associated partners from Native American Health Center, East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC), and SLUSD health educators. The Barbara Lee Center operates five days a week and provides medical, dental, behavioral, and social services on-site with specialty services varying on specific days. Trained and licensed family nurse practitioners are on site three days a week, running four medical exam rooms providing primary care, preventative care, physical exams, medication prescriptions, and reproductive health services. Dentists and dental assistants are also on-site two days a week equipped with two brand new dental exam chairs to provide cleanings to students and family members as well. Also, instead of interns, this health center has a licensed clinical social worker.
In addition to providing direct health services, the Barbara Lee Center also provides programs geared toward youth development. For example, the Health Education Action Team (also known as HEAT), comes together to discuss weekly health topics to share with the school and San Leandro community. Students involved with HEAT organize school campaigns and workshops to bring awareness to various health concerns and highlights.
In an interview with Atziri Rodriguez, the Program Manager at the Barbara Lee Wellness Center, she would like to highlight the importance of a school-based health center, especially new ones like the Barbara Lee Center. The success of a school-based health center relies on building relationships and integrating itself into the school and community. Developing an up and running school-based health center is a process, as it takes time to build rapport and establish a “community” with students, administrators, and the entire community itself. Students and families need to feel connected to where they receive care, as that is what holds them and brings them back for well child check up and health appointments. Trust and reliability are key factors.
This is the Barbara Lee Center’s third year since opening their doors, and they have seen tremendous growth over the years through their variety of services for students and SLUSD community members with over 370 clients and 1,300 visits. The center hopes to increase its availability of services as the demand and need grows!