Gresham-Barlow School District is building a School Based Health Center

 School Based Health Centers are accessible and equitable!


School Based Health Centers are accessible and equitable!

By the start of the 2024-2025 school year, students will be able to access a health clinic across the street from Gresham High School. To create access for both Barlow and Gresham students, there will also be a mobile clinic that travels between Barlow and other schools in the district. 

A few months ago, the Gresham-Barlow School Board unanimously voted in favor of building a School-Based Health Center. In 2018, a similar conversation was had about the possibility of building a school based health center, but ultimately it was put off because the district would have had to provide funding to build and maintain it. Now, there is a grant that will be providing funding. Mayra Gomez, the chair of the Gresham-Barlow School Board, says “We really don’t have any barriers, if anything, this is going to be an asset.”

The clinic serves to resolve barriers in healthcare and increase student attendance.  Gomez says that building this clinic will help students receive healthcare in a timely manner because, as many students have experienced, it can take months to get in to see a doctor, and once you get an appointment it can take a whole school day to get to and from the appointment. Gresham High School students will just have to walk across the street to access healthcare and Barlow High School students will be able to use a mobile clinic that will be parked on campus. 

Gomez adds that School-Based Health Centers will be able to administer vaccines, means that Exclusion Day, the deadline for all students to have their mandatory vaccines to continue going to school, won’t be as difficult. Along with vaccines, the School Based Health Center will provide mental health support, sports physicals, and various other services.. 

Maureen Hinnman, Executive Director of the Oregon School Based Health Alliance (OSBHA), points out that a School-Based Health Center is similar to a regular clinic when it comes to confidentiality laws and what they can provide. However, School-Based Health Centers provide services at low to no cost regardless of if the student has insurance. Many in the United States know the burden of putting off healthcare because of the cost; School-Based Health Centers fight against this for youth. 

OSBHA is a non-profit organization that works to advocate for youth health and include youth opinions into their work. Hinnman says, “Right now we’re hearing from everybody that more mental health services are needed.” Because of this, they are working at a legislative level advocating for funding for School-Based Health Centers and other health models that work to improve youth health, specifically mental health. Hinnman also quotes a study that shows that School Based Health Centers significantly reduce youth reports of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. 

If you are currently in need of affordable health care, School-Based Health Centers in surrounding districts will help you! Reynolds and Centennial high schools both have School-Based Health Centers that can be accessed by Barlow students.