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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New in-school health clinic aims to keep Rogers student body well

This really is a feel-good story, especially for the students and their families at Rogers High School.

Beginning Monday, Rogers will be the first high school in Spokane to host a comprehensive health clinic, thanks to a three-year, $590,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente.

The center, operated by Community Health Association of Spokane, will provide a variety of health care services to students, including medical, behavioral and dental care, as well as offer connections to community programs.

That means parents won’t lose work time hauling children to clinics, which should boost attendance as well as overall health.

“We get a high number of kids with the flu because they don’t have access to flu shots,” Rogers Principal Lori Wyborney said. “We have a high number of kids with respiratory and cold things. … That clinic will be able to cut down on some of that and help with attendance.”

“The whole community has been really excited,” said Wyborney, who has sought such a facility for several years.

Last year, northeast Spokane put that excitement into action.

When Kaiser put out a request for proposals for a school-based health center last year, the Rogers application made a big impression.

“One of the strongest components of their application was the strong partnership between the community provider, Rogers and the neighborhoods,” said Kelly Stanford, Spokane-based vice president of clinical operations and market integration at Kaiser.

On top of that, surrounding neighborhoods pooled $165,000 in federal funds to help pay for remodeling part of the school to accommodate the health center.

As workers were putting the finishing touches on the project last week, Wyborney and others looked on with anticipation at what could become a nexus for helping underserved students.

Nearby are the offices of Communities in Schools, which works with schools to lower dropout rates, and Gear Up, which helps students prepare for college and gain access to student aid.

The CHAS clinic will serve the 1,500-student body at Rogers, which is one of a handful of schools in the state with an on-campus health center. Most are in the Puget Sound area, and their track record is good, said Deborah Wiser, chief clinical officer at CHAS.

“We also see a decrease in the rates of unintended pregnancies, when teens have access to reproductive care,” Wiser said.

The clinic’s hours – 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. – will match the school’s, and it will serve summer school students as well.

Eventually, the clinic will serve the larger neighborhood, though a timetable hasn’t been set.

“We want to become part of the Rogers community, not just open a clinic,” said Johnnie Beans, school outreach specialist with CHAS.