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Students visit capitol, lobby for health centers

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Students from the youth advisory council traveled to Salem on Wednesday, Feb. 26, in conjunction of School Based Health Center Awareness Day. The students gave a presentation on Wade Creek Clinic to Rep. Bill Kennemer.Giving a presentation to a lawmaker might seem like an intimidating task, but for student leaders Ciara Licari, Audrey Alvarado and Mariah Johnson, chatting with state Rep. Bill Kennemer was like talking with a friend.

Licari, Alvarado, Johnson and other Estacada High School students from the Youth Advisory Council for Wade Creek Clinic traveled to Salem on Wednesday, Feb. 26, in conjunction with School Based Health Centers Awareness Day.

They came armed with a concise presentation, the clinic’s monthly patient visits during its first year of existence in 2013, personal stories of the impact of having access to school-based health care, funding information and planned improvements.

The students discussed how the clinic had a slow start in its first few months, but the number of patient visits started to climb.

The clinic was at its busiest in August and September, around the time students were required to have sports physicals to participate in fall athletics.

Wade Creek Clinic hit a setback in November when the nurse practitioner left. The clinic shut down for two weeks before two nurse practitioners were brought on.

They will stay until a permanent practitioner is hired.

Emily Searls, who interns at the Wade Creek Clinic, shared an anecdote about an ill child who visited the clinic.

“One of the kids that had the biggest impact on me was a little first-grader,” Searls wrote in her presentation for Kennemer. “At school, he had been sitting on the secretary’s lap because his dad had sent him to school sick the last few days with a high fever.”

The child’s aunt brought him to the clinic.

“His aunt told us the story of how he was feeling and also said his dad wouldn’t have brought him to a doctor ever because he didn’t have the money. She continued to say that had the school-based health center not been there, her nephew would’ve never gotten the treatment he needed,” Searls said.

“It was sad to see a kid who hadn’t usually gotten sickness taken care of due to his dad not having enough money,” she concluded. “It was also a realization for me that school-based health centers really are a good thing because there are many more kids out there just like that first-grader I met.”

Kennemer was impressed by the students’ presentation.

“In lots of places in Oregon, and Estacada is one of them, there’s a great need,” he said. “I think it’s great these kids have early access to health care and I support that.”

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - From left, Estacada High School Junior Mariah Johnson, Junior Audrey Alvarado and Senior Ciara Licari stand in front of Wade Creek Clinic. The three lead the youth advisory council for the clinic. Licari helped form the council as a sophomore due in part to her interest in pursuing a career as a surgical nurse. Alvarado and Johnson joined the council as a way to be involved and have a positive impact on the community.Licari said that after the visit to the capitol, the youth council felt motivated to spread awareness about Wade Creek Clinic.

“I feel like a lot of students don’t really know it’s there,” she said.

The clinic is located on the Estacada High School campus next to the school building.

Licari said proximity is one of the clinic’s biggest assets.

Students don’t have to miss much school to receive health services as they have access to them next door.

Licari, who leads the youth advisory council along with Alvarado and Johnson, said the students are focusing efforts on letting the community know Wade Creek Clinic is there.

The students are planning an Awareness Day for Estacada High School.

As one of 65 school-based health centers in the state, Licari said the students felt fortunate to have such a clinic.

“We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to (access) good health care, and our school-based health center has been the root of it all,” she said.

Wade Creek Clinic is temporarily on shortened hours.

The clinic sees students from 8-10 a.m. and adults 10 a.m. to noon Monday-Thursday.

Though walk-in students are welcome, appointments are encouraged.

To make an appointment call 503-630-8550.

For more information, visit www.esd108.org/super_docs.asp.



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