Facility to offer students physical, mental health care

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Benson Polytechnic High School students enjoy the Feb. 11 opening of the new Benson Wellness Center at the central eastside high school.A new 1,400-square-foot health clinic at Benson Polytechnic High School was unveiled to much fanfare Thursday, Feb. 11, as the community celebrated improved access to health care for its students and staff.

Benson Tech is a magnet program, drawing students from across the district, which means travel time to medical appointments can seriously cut into academic time, officials say. The new clinic just down the hall hopes to offer more efficient and targeted care to adolescents.

Staffed by Oregon Health & Science University residents and faculty of the Family Medicine Department, the clinic also will provide the dual benefit of mentorship for students who want to enter the health care field. The OHSU residents also will be able to more easily get experience with teens, a typically healthy demographic that is hard to find in other clinics.

The clinic, opening to students Feb. 23, will house the school nurse from the Multnomah Education Service District and mental health professionals from the Multnomah County Health Department and Western Psychological & Counseling Services.

“Without an on-site health clinic you cannot get county mental health services, and that puts a ghastly burden on the school counselors,” says PPS board member Paul Anthony, who helped champion the project.

Anthony says they hope to eventually leverage the clinic into opening up Benson Tech’s dentistry program to caring for students. He claims the leading cause of unexpected absences in the district is tooth pain.

“It’s an appalling set of statistics around this,” he says. “We’re gonna actually do something about it.”

Shasta Kearns Moore
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