Clinics benefit students, parents, community

This month, communities across Colorado and the country are celebrating National School-Based Health Center Awareness Month.

Durango is one such community that is fortunate enough to house two of the nearly 1,800 school-based health centers nationwide. School-based health centers, such as those at Florida Mesa Elementary and Durango High School, are a powerful approach to providing children and teens with integrated health services. Research has shown that these clinics improve access to care, reduce absenteeism from school, reduce the use of expensive emergency care and improve immunization rates.

The school-based health centers not only help children and teens, but families, the school district and the community, too. Parents are able to miss less time at work because of the convenient location of the clinics at their childís school and can be informed about low-cost insurance alternatives and the importance of preventive health-care services. School-based health centers are dedicated to supporting the schoolsí educational mission, and there is a positive response from students who take advantage of these services that are uniquely tailored to their needs.

Iím a student at Fort Lewis College pursuing a bachelorís degree in public health and the fifth intern to work at the school-based health centers. The clinics are allowing FLC students to experience firsthand what a successful public-health initiative program looks like and the positive impacts it has on improving the health of the community.

The school-based health center is looking forward to expanding its high school clinic after receiving a grant from the federal government. The grant will fund all the bricks and mortar for the expansion, but will not cover any operational costs. To aid in these costs, bricks are being sold for $50 or $100, and will be placed in front of the new building.

If you are interested in purchasing a brick or donating money to the cause, please email Sherrod Beall at

Katrina Nanio