PORT ANGELES — A new health clinic is up and running at Port Angeles High School, where many students have no other access to a medical provider, Port Angeles Noon Rotary Club members were told Wednesday.
The North Olympic Healthcare Network (NOHN) clinic opened at the school Tuesday, thanks in part to a $12,000 donation from Rotary members.
Port Angeles School District Superintendent Marc Jackson said the donation helped “get the wheels rolling.”
“We’re at the beginning of this, but it’s on the track,” Jackson told about 40 Rotarians at their Wednesday luncheon at the Asian Buffet.
“It’s moving in the right place. They’re now seeing students, and in no time it’s going to really blossom.”
School nurse Marlene Bradow, who worked with NOHN Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kate Weller and others to launch the campus clinic, said many high school students lack access to health care.
“They have obstacles such as transportation, they have challenges with finances,” Bradow said.
“They might have just moved into the area and they are not able to get health care for a month or two. And then there’s long waiting lists on getting health care to establish yourself as a patient.
“A lot of the kids say, ‘Oh, my mom just takes me to the emergency room when something happens,’ ” Bradow added. “That’s a weight on our community, also.”
The school-based health center will be open every other Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon. It will be staffed by a NOHN physician assistant.
If demand merits, NOHN will consider expanding the service.
Forty-two percent of Port Angeles high school students qualify for free and reduced lunch, Jackson said. Attendance at the school, Jackson added, has been a “big issue.”
“If you’re a single mom or a single father, or [a student] with grandparents and you can’t get dental care or vision care or health care, these kids typically have a tough time staying in school and finding that consistency,” Jackson said.
The Port Angeles School Board approved the on-campus health center last June.
The idea was spearheaded by eighth-grade teacher and Port Angeles Citizen Action Network founder Angie Gooding.
The donation from the Rotary was used to purchase medical supplies for the exam room.
“When I got the phone call that Rotarians were interested in donating to the health clinic,” Bradow said, “I was very, very excited.”
Jackson said Bradow continued to push for the school-based clinic despite some resistance.
He credited Port Angeles Noon Rotary President Greg Birch with having the vision to support the health center.
Students seeking health care must register with NOHN, which can be done through the school nurse or NOHN.
Registration instructions and new patient applications are available on the Port Angeles School District website at www.portangelesschools.org. Appointments can be scheduled through the school nurse or by calling NOHN’s office.
“I want to thank the Rotarians for all of their support with the youth in this community and in being the first one to come in and donate to the school-based health clinic,” Bradow said.
“With your endorsement and support, I believe we’re going to have a lot of other people coming in and giving to support this.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.