In Oakland, schools are partnering with community health organizations to open clinics on campuses. On Thursday, the district celebrated its 14th such opening at West Oakland Middle School. KQED’s Caitlin Esch visited a school-based clinic that opened a year ago to see how it’s changing the community.
The health center at Havenscourt Middle School is a cross between a pediatrician’s office and a teen clinic. Nurse practitioner Karen Gersten-Rothenberg says students can get sports physicals, vaccines, and pregnancy tests. They can even get their cavities filled.
“For some students, we are the primary care provider,” Gersten-Rothenberg says. “Many students don’t have access to primary care because they’re not insurable, because they’re undocumented.”
The clinic sees up to 50 students a week. The district is hoping on-site health centers will cut down on absenteeism.
“We see a student, they go right back to class,” says Gersten-Rothenberg. “When a student has to go a doctor in the community, they’re likely to miss at least half the day, if not the full day.”
The district will study whether access to health clinics at schools improves academic performance and reduces trips to the emergency room.