Neah-Kah-Nie School District was one of 11 school districts to receive an Oregon School-Based Health Center Grant. This the second year of the grant. The school district hopes for the center to be open by the beginning of next school year.
According to Oregon Health Authority, School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) are a unique health care model for comprehensive physical, mental and preventative health services provided to youth and adolescents either within a school or on school property. Each health center is staffed by a primary care professional who may be a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, other medical or mental health professionals and support staff, such as a receptionist.
The future site of the health center would be Neah-Kah-Nie High School, which is co-located with Neah-Kah-Nie Middle School on a shared campus. The center would be available for all five schools in the district and would be centrally located. There is space available in the high school, part of which is near the entrance to the school, allowing easy access to families and community members for community health events.
Neah-Kah-Nie School District Superintendent Paul Erlebach said the school district received the competitive grant last year. Gail Nelson, CEO of Rinehart Clinic, had experience with a health-based center in a previous job and helped write the grant. Last year was Phase 1 of the project, this year is Phase 2, and Phase 3 will be completed next year.
The school district had to complete a needs assessment the first year of the grant, during Phase 1, Erlebach said.
“We talked with students, parents and staff and determined there was a need,” Erlebach said. “We looked at all locations throughout the district to find out where the best locations would be and where we could serve the most students.”
Erlebach said he has been to three School-Based Health Centers, which helped him understand the purpose of what the center does: improve access to health for all students. Not every student’s parents can take students to the doctor.
The School-Based Health Center needs a medical sponsor. This sponsor provides the health service, while the school district provides the location. The sponsor also develops specific billing policies and practices, said Jonathan Modie, lead communications officer for Oregon Health Authority.
“No student will be turned away for lack of ability to pay,” Modie said. “Oregon-certified SBHCs are required to bill Medicaid, and most will also bill private insurers if the student has insurance.”
Types of services provided by SBHCs include well-child exams; sick visits; minor injury treatment; vision, dental and other health screenings; immunizations; substance use disorder screening and assessment; mental health counseling; reproductive health services; prevention and wellness messaging; and health-related classroom presentations.
Phase 2 of the project is a grant used for renovation purposes and construction projects. Some office space will be renovated at the high school.
“Primarily, we need a reception area, an exam room, a lab and a bathroom, and an office,” Erlebach said. “We’re working with an architect to design this phase.”
Neah-Kah-Nie School District is looking to put together a School-Based Health Center Advisory Committee, who would help make decisions in the construction planning process. The committee includes students, staff, school board members and others. The advisory committee would also develop a mission statement, a timeline, and make necessary decisions. They may also seek additional funding.
Those interested in joining the committee should contact Paul Erlebach at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-355-3501 for more information and for an application.