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Riverview Gardens High School opening a clinic after 2 years of planning

The entire school-based health center will take up 2,800 square feet at Riverview Gardens High School.
Riverview Gardens School District

Another area school district is about to open an on-campus health center. Riverview Gardens High School's clinic will be available to 1,200 students this month.

It’s part of a trend to bring health care access to students with the aim of improving academic performance.

"Health care centers I think across the country really have a track record of improving attendance and performance and breaking down those barriers to education," said Riverview Gardens School District Superintendent Scott Spurgeon.

The clinic is a partnership with non-profit CareSTL Health and Christian Hospital Foundation. Funding is coming from the foundation and medical professionals from CareSTL will staff the center.

"Quite honestly, it's a groundbreaking partnership," said Spurgeon while adding Washington University's Health Equity Works also helped out with a needs assessment at the high school.

Students will not need health insurance to receive medical attention at the clinic. It's a Federally Qualified Health Center and will use a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay.

The initiative has been in the planning stages for approximately two years. Spurgeon sees it as another way to prepare students for success.

"We've really tried to do things such as the healthcare center so that our families and our students have access to the resources and the services that are necessary for our kids to be healthy and ready to learn," he said.

That goal prompted other school districts in the region to take similar action over the last few years.

In 2012, a clinic operated by Mercy Hospital opened in Roosevelt High School. It was funded through a $500,000 grant by Boeing. At that time, school officials said there were 2,400 medical clinics in schools throughout the country.

A school-based clinic opened at Jennings Senior High School in 2015. Supporters described it as a resource for high school students without a primary care provider. There were about 600 students at the school.

And a clinic a Normandy High School opened last year. It's run by Affinia Healthcare.

The clinic at Riverview Gardens High School will officially open Oct., 29.
Credit Riverview Gardens School District
The clinic at Riverview Gardens High School will officially open Oct., 29.

Yet even as Riverview Gardens jumps on board, there is a possibility of a slowdown in the school-based health center trend. The federal Department of Homeland Security is considering whether to restrict green cards for immigrants on public aid. That could prompt fewer people to enroll in Medicaid, leading to less money for clinics in schools.

Chalkbeat reports the proposal could deny green cards to those who need non-emergency benefits including Medicaid and food stamps.

Public comments on the potential change are being accepted and a final decision is not expected immediately.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter: @WayneRadio

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.