Glenwood Springs High opens school health center
Principal Paul Freeman remembers walking the halls of Glenwood High School several years ago and meeting a student who was “clearly not doing well”.
The high school student was squeezing his stomach and, in Freeman’s eyes, was clearly in need of medical attention. When he asked the student why he hadn’t seen a doctor, he received a blank stare in response.
“He looked at me like it was all impossible for people like him,” Freeman said. “The idea that he could get medical help was totally foreign to him.”
Freeman said accessibility and affordability was a concern for this student and others. To combat this, Glenwood Springs High became the fifth school in Roaring Fork to open a school health center, an on-campus clinic with Mountain Family Health Centers. Students enrolled in any school in Roaring Fork can access medical, behavioral, and dental care and help with purchasing insurance.
The Glenwood Springs site opened on the first day of school and celebrated its grand opening on August 24.
Glenwood Springs High students now have immediate access to things like injury care, sports physical exams, vaccinations, sexual health education, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and dental services basics like cleaning and x-rays. They can consult a behavior specialist for general advice and prevention of drug addiction. Everything takes place within the same walls that they have gym and biology classes.
Schedules, trips and the price of care are all barriers to entry for some students to obtain medical or mental care. In Freeman’s words, school health centers put care “on their knees.”
“Proximity means a lot,” Freeman said. “But also the spirit of the way this place is run is going to be extremely helpful in making children understand that they can take care of themselves and that there are people who will take care of them.”
It also consolidates care in one place and one staff. Instead of sending students to a dentist, clinician, and therapist in three different locations, this care takes place in one place, which Mountain Health says makes them more “integrated”.
CEO Ross Brooks said every patient, whether medical, dental or behavioral, is asked questions about their emotional well-being. If there are concerns about depression or other mental health issues, they can refer the patient to the behavior specialist and possibly bring them into the room for that discussion.
Mountain Family behavior specialist Kate Andraschko, who provides services at Glenwood Springs High, said it also helps students break the stigma attached to getting mental health care.
“Often, students may not feel comfortable talking to a behavioral health care provider,” Andraschko said.
Mountain Family also offers families financial assistance. A team of specialists can help with insurance applications and help determine eligibility for programs like Medicaid or other financial assistance programs.
The company also offers a membership program that provides access to care for a fixed monthly fee, starting at $ 69 for medical coverage only and $ 129 for medical, dental and behavioral care.
Funding for the centers comes from sponsors in the Roaring Fork Valley, including the City of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, and the Colorado Health Foundation.
Roaring Fork Schools also has school health centers in elementary, middle and secondary schools in Roaring Fork High and Basalt. Mountain Family Health Centers also operates a center at Avon Elementary School in Eagle County.
The Glenwood High Center is open Monday through Friday for behavioral health, Tuesdays and Thursdays for medical care, and Thursday for dental care.
More information about school health centers, including registration and appointment scheduling, is available on the Mountain Family Health Centers website, mountainfamily.org.