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Student health center will offer basic services and exams to underserved population

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY - The Reynolds High School student health center, opening in April, will house four exam rooms, a dental hygiene chair, a mental health counselor and lab.A new school-based health center is scheduled to open in April at Reynolds High School, making it the latest school clinic in Multnomah County.

The Reynolds School District area is home to the largest number of Medicaid insured youths in Multnomah County and the greatest concentration of children ages 11-19 who do not access basic health services, such as annual exams and mental health counseling, Multnomah County officials said.

"A lot of students here don't have access to health care because they are low-income," Luis Calderon, 17, a Reynolds High School senior and longtime resident of the Rockwood community said in a county newsletter.

"If you're not feeling good then you're not in the right mindset to learn, and that puts you at a huge disadvantage," he added.

A $2.3 million state lottery capital grant funded the construction and Multnomah County will provide staff, equipment, and supplies for the Reynolds clinic.

Although there have been some questions about the ability to staff student health centers in Portland Public Schools, a county spokesperson said, "the county focused on areas with greater need, and one of those areas includes Reynolds High School" and said the Reynolds clinic will be "fully staffed."

The new 2,493-square-foot Reynolds health center will house four exam rooms, a dental hygiene chair, a mental health counselor and lab. It is located in the high school's language arts hallway.

The Reynolds High School clinic will be open to all families in the district for kids in kindergarten though 12th grade. Students don't have to attend the school to receive services.

The district did not respond to requests for comment or interviews about the new facility.

The school-based health center staff will provide comprehensive, preventive, primary and mental health care for children ages 5 to 18.

The clinics provide all the basic health care needs of students such as vaccinations, sports physicals, wellness visits and routine illnesses and some mental health care.

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY  -  Luis Calderon, 17, a Reynolds High School senior, plans to use the new Student Health Center coming to Reynolds High.

If families are uninsured or underinsured, they will have no out-of-pocket expenses.

The new center will be open three days per week and increase to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.

With the addition of the Reynolds Student Health Center, Multnomah County will operate nine student health centers in five school districts.

Centennial High School has had a school-based health center since 2014 and is the closest to Reynolds of the nine. The county has delivered basic health care at schools for more than 30 years.

"Student Health Centers bring critical, health care services to children and adolescents in the school system," Tasha Wheatt-Delancy, interim director of Multnomah County's Integrated Clinical Services, said in a statement.

"This is an amazing opportunity to offer equitable healthcare access for youth in the Reynold's school district," she said.

Reynolds, Oregon's 11th largest school district, serves 11,000 students in 16 public and three charter schools with over 71 languages spoken. About 68% of students are non white and 79% have families with low enough income to qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

In a statement, Danna Diaz, superintendent of Reynolds School District said, "For many of our students, the lack of access to quality healthcare can impact attendance and the ability to learn in the classroom."

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