Clinic brings medical staff, services to high school halls

Work on Thornton High health center gets underway

Posted 6/5/17

A new health clinic in the center of Thornton High School won’t just make students healthier, according to Principal Jennifer Skrobela, it will improve their academic performance as well.

“We are now going to have health professionals on-site …

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Clinic brings medical staff, services to high school halls

Work on Thornton High health center gets underway

Posted

A new health clinic in the center of Thornton High School won’t just make students healthier, according to Principal Jennifer Skrobela, it will improve their academic performance as well.

“We are now going to have health professionals on-site just to talk to our young adults and to answer their questions and help them in their own choices,” Skrobela said. “As a result, I think we’ll see improvements in our attendance rates. As a result, I think we’ll see healthier, happier and more confident young adults at Thornton High School.”

Skrobela and other Adams 12 Five Star officials and representatives from Kids First Health Care kicked off renovation work May 31 on the new high school clinic, the first for the school district.

“Ultimately, we will see students who achieve at higher levels,” Skrobela said. “As we all know, the more time you spend in school, engaged in learning and feeling at your best, the higher you perform.”

When it opens this fall, the clinic will feature three examination rooms, two counseling offices and a lab for a physician, a nurse practitioner and medical assistant. It will serve the 1,700 students at Thornton High as well as 1,085 other students from around the district attending Bollman Technical Education Center.

“Students will get top-notch health services here, right at school,” Skrobela said. “If you are not feeling well you can come right in and get helped.”

It’s not the first of its kind. There are more than 2,000 such clinics around the country and Kids First Health Care Executive Director Norma Portnoy said her company currently runs clinics around the state, including at Westminster High School.

The clinic is the first in Adams 12, and district Student Engagement Initiatives Director Johnny Terrell thanked Portnoy’s group for helping it happen in Thornton.

“We were at the table, wondering how this would happen, and didn’t expect anyone as altruistic as Kids First to come along and say they’d help build this thing, get the money and make it happen,” Terrell said. “We said ‘What’s the catch?’ But there was no catch but taking care of kids.”

Portnoy said plans call for opening a similar clinic in Brighton in the fall of 2018.

The clinic will offer a range of services targeted to teens — vaccinations, physicals for high school sports and counseling.

It is scheduled to open in August or September, Skrobela said.

The clinic replaces two social studies rooms in a busy central hallway on the high school’s bottom floor, Portnoy said.

“It’s in the perfect location, in a highly trafficked hallway,” Portnoy said. “It’s not stuck in an endless hallway where the kids won’t ever walk by.”

The clinic doesn’t replace the typical high school nurses’ office, Skrobela said, but complements it. Students with headaches, sore throats and stomachaches will still go to the school nurse, just down the hall from the clinic.

“They can really go to either one,” Skrobela said. “We’ll have multiple medical practitioners right on the site.”

The clinic will be open to all of Thornton High’s students and to students at nearby Bollman Technical Education Center. The tech center serves students from all of the Adams 12 Five Star schools.

All construction costs are being covered by grants — $250,000 from the City of Thornton, $300,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation and $50,000 from the Caring for Colorado Foundation.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will pay to operate the center once it’s open, Portnoy said. That means all services are free to the students for the first year, Skrobela said.

“We thought that was important, for the first year at least,” she said. “Typically, there is a nominal fee, but we thought it was very important for all students to have the opportunity to access high-quality health care.”

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