SBHCs ensure that all students have access to the affirming and comprehensive health care they need, when they need it.
What is a School Based Health Center?
Did you know that Outside In operates a School Based Health Center – or SBHC – at Milwaukie High School? SBHCs ensure that all students have access to the affirming and comprehensive health care they need, when they need it. Outside In’s SBHC offers an integrated model of health care, meaning that students can access primary care, behavioral health care, and dental care all in the same place. SBHCs reduce barriers that can keep students from seeking the health care they need. These barriers include lack of health insurance, transportation, and concerns about confidentiality. At Milwaukie High School, students can access care at the SBHC any time, and can often be seen by a provider almost immediately.
Outside In’s SBHC Staff Team after receiving the 2019 School Based Health Center Excellence Award from the Oregon Health Authority’s Adolescent and School Health Team.
Health Literacy is Key
While the SBHC is a clinic, because of its location in a school, there are many opportunities for teachable moments. Outside In staff help students learn how to make an appointment, fill out paperwork, give consent, decide what questions they should ask their provider, and advocate for themselves during an appointment. We also help students learn to develop relationships with medical professionals and have conversations about preventative health topics such as nutrition, exercise, and reproductive health.
New School Year, New Space
Milwaukie High School has just finished a large construction project that has resulted in the SBHC shuffling between spaces for the past few years. After spending two years in a modular trailer on the school’s football field, the team moved their operations into one of Outside In’s mobile medical vans this summer, before finally moving into their new permanent space at the end of August. Our staff is thrilled to have a beautiful new health center space to engage with students!
COVID-19 Brings Challenges
Like so many health care centers, COVID-19 impacted the SBHC in a big way. Milwaukie High School has been closed for in-person classes since last spring, and no date has been set for students to return to the classroom. However, health care visits are still taking place! Phone and video appointments are available to students. And when needed, students can still see their provider onsite and in-person. Our staff team has adapted to virtual visits and meetings, and have safety measures in place for in-person visits. And, they have been increasing their social media and website outreach efforts to stay connected with students.
The Youth Advocacy Council Gives Students an Opportunity to Lead Health Initiatives in Their School
The Youth Advocacy Council – or YAC, as it is known by the students – is a youth-led and youth-centered group whose role is to promote the health center and work towards a health system that reflects what students actually need – not what adults think they need. Because it is student-led, the group identifies the projects that are most important to them. Last year, when the monthly free food market closed due to school construction, students felt that having access to free food was important for students, their families, and the broader community – and they began the process of launching a new food pantry.
The SBHC’s food pantry is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month! Students are integral to all aspects of the Food Pantry. From the initial meeting with the Oregon Food Bank, to stocking shelves, making posters, and volunteering during open hours – the students are making access to healthy food a reality for their classmates and neighbors.
And while COVID-19 means that students aren’t able to be active in the pantry, our SBHC team knows how important the pantry is – particularly to those in the community who have never experienced not having a job or needing extra assistance with food for their families. Our dedicated staff have continued to keep the pantry stocked and open to the public on Wednesday afternoons – ensuring that the community has access to nutritious foods.
“Our community is really appreciative of the food pantry. It is rewarding just to be there, and feels really good to put together a food box full of pretty and healthy food.” ~Isabel Mesa Vasquez, Site Coordinator, School Based Health Center
Updated Health Curriculum to Meet Students’ Needs
The YAC does more than just run the food pantry! In 2018-2019, student surveys revealed that students felt their health curriculum was redundant, and they also wanted more information on mental health resources. Further, LGBTQIA+ students reported feeling invisible in their health classes. When a grant opportunity came up to update and deliver sexual health curriculum, the YAC jumped at the opportunity and were awarded a grant to make improved health education a reality.
Last year, students presented 18 lessons to nine classes of students. YAC students chose the curriculum and lessons that were meaningful to them, and presented those lessons to their fellow classmates. After the lessons were completed, the SBHC began to see students using the language they learned in their classes when they visited the health center. And because of the relationships that students and staff have built with health teachers, we think that they will continue to incorporate information on gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual health for queer students in their classrooms.
“Our SBHC provides really innovative care. We try to get students familiar with the health care system and know their rights as minors. We want them to know how to advocate for what they need and build their health literacy. We want our students to be set up for successful health experiences in the future.” ~Hannah Smith, Health and Wellness Coordinator, School Based Health Center
Outside In is really proud of our School-Based Health Center, and the team’s incredible work with North Clackamas students! We are committed to providing accessible health care to everyone – including young people. And we are grateful to our community for your continued support – thank you!
It is because of you – our community –
that Outside In is able to save the lives of thousands of people each year.
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Your support of Outside In creates health and hope for the more than 11,000 people we serve every year. We can’t say it enough: THANK YOU!