Neighborcare’s school clinic surpasses first-year goals

Neighborcare’s school-based clinic completed a successful first year and remains open one day a week this summer for dental and medical appointment for island youth.

The clinic opened at the start of last school year with a $766,000 grant from the King County Best Starts for Kids Initiative. As of the end of June, the clinic had served about one-third of the students in the Vashon Island School District, according to Mary Schilder, Neighborcare’s director of marketing communications. Neighborcare’s target number to serve was 350. Instead, it served more than 470 students from all three schools with nearly 1,300 medical visits, 1,400 mental health visits and 90 dental visits.

“We were all very excited and maybe even a little bit surprised how well we performed this year,” said Neighborcare’s School-Based Health Program Manager Alyssa Pyke.

She noted the high number of mental health visits in particular; 120 students received mental health services.

“We knew going into this after having done our research that mental health services would be in high demand,” she added, noting that the need on the island is higher than in other parts of King County.

She attributed that need for services, in part, to Vashon’s isolation and few providers of mental health care. Last year, mental health services were offered at Chautauqua Elementary School and Vashon High School. Middle school students were able to receive care at either of the schools, she said, but next year, a half-time mental health provider will be at McMurray as well.

This summer the school clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays. Mental health services are not offered, but medical and dental appointments are. Originally, the reason for being open was to test out the summer services model and to continue offering dental services, which started later in this school year, Pyke said.

However, the Sunrise Ridge Neighborcare clinic is short-staffed this summer, following the departure of three providers there — two of whom Neighborcare asked to leave because of financial strains at the clinic and one who recently chose to leave on her own.

The tight staffing situation at the clinic also played a role in the summer student clinic hours, she said, as being open allows the Sunrise Ridge clinic to send pediatric patients to the school clinic and focus on adults who need care.

“We feel like partners in serving the community,” Pyke said. “We are excited about the next school year and are looking forward to seeing how the summer goes.”

To reach the clinic, located at Vashon High School, call Neighborcare’s call center or 206-463-3671.

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