Health Centers Planned for Additional Schools in High-Need Areas

The district is moving forward on adding as many as seven school-based health centers in regions of the city where residents have the least access to health care.

The public clinics will be modeled after Gaston Middle School's Health and Wellness Center in southwest Fresno, which opened with the school in 2014.

The clinic is open 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday and is operated by the non-profit Clinica Sierra Vista. The center is also staffed with a registered nurse and licensed vocational nurse provided by the district.

Based on the success of the Gaston center, the Fresno Unified Board of Education has identified several high-needs areas for similar clinics and is making plans for as many as seven new health centers in the coming months.

Clinica Sierra Vista and Valley Health Team have been selected by the board as potential community partners to operate the health centers.

The Gaston health center not only serves Gaston students but the surrounding community. The center has become a significant asset to southwest Fresno, with the number of patients rising from 3,373 in 2014-15 to 4,235 in 2015-16, with 2,166 through November of this school year.

The center provides primary care and treatment, physicals, case management, immunizations, vision care, mental/behavioral care, lab services, referrals for dental care, drug and alcohol counseling, health education and transportation to the main clinic.

"Expanding the number of school-based health clinics is a tremendous step forward. When our students are healthy, that means they can be in school learning and participating in all that their schools have to offer," said Superintendent Michael Hanson. "These clinics are also a huge asset for the communities around our schools."

Studies have shown that school-based health centers improve school attendance rates and student test scores. Fresno Unified's Gaston Health and Wellness Center is among 243 school-based health centers in California and 2,000 across the nation.