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DHS news release

Jan. 23, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Bob Nystrom, 971-673-0243

Report cites support for school-based health centers

Oregonians overwhelmingly support school-based health centers, according to survey findings cited in a new report, "School-Based Health Centers: Quality Health Care for Kids," which the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division released this month.

School-based health centers, or SBHCs, are primary care clinics located at schools. They provide physical, emotional and preventive health care to students regardless of the students' ability to pay.

Governor Ted Kulongoski's "Healthy Kids Plan" calls for investing $2 million to create 13 new school-based health centers in addition to the 44 centers that already exist in 17 counties.

"Healthy kids learn better, and become happier, more productive citizens," the Governor said. "School-based health centers give children access to affordable, high-quality physical and mental health care. These centers help kids stay in school so they can learn, develop and gain skills to pursue their dreams."

As part of an ongoing health behavior survey routinely conducted by DHS, the department asked Oregonians last year about the importance of providing 12 kinds of health services in a school-based setting. Ninety percent or more of people surveyed rated half of the services as important. No single service received less than 70 percent of support by those surveyed.

Other report highlights, based on data gathered during the 2005-2006 school year, include the following:

  • SBHCs served 20,177 clients through 63,863 visits.
  • Forty-two percent of SBHC clients were uninsured.
  • Sixty percent of SBHC clients would not have received health care outside of the SBHC.
  • Fifty-six percent of clients said they did not miss one class while using the SBHC.
  • Sixty-eight percent of students reported their health was better because of the SBHC.
  • Eighty-seven percent of students reported receiving at least one prevention message during their SBHC visit.

Students who used the SBHCs gave them high marks. Ninety-nine percent of students who used services were comfortable receiving care at the SBHC, and 95 percent said they were likely to follow the advice they received at the SBHC.


The survey also elicited anecdotal comments from many students. A 15-year old girl said, "I would not be very healthy or aware of my health decisions if it were not for the health center. School-based health centers are important to me because it's an environment where I feel safe."

For the 2005-2006 school year, $1.25 million in state general funds helped deliver more than $2.4 million in health care services, including more than $946,000 to uninsured students, according to the report. The cost of operating an average SBHC for one year ranges from an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Though the state general fund helps pay for SBHCs, significant funding also comes from local sources.

A typical SBHC, which is open at least three days a week during the school year, is staffed by a primary care provider, a registered nurse and a health assistant. If the center offers mental health services, a qualified mental health professional is on staff.

Each SBHC is designed to meet the needs of its community. Centers must receive certification according to specific standards in order to gain recognition by DHS and the local health department, thus gaining eligibility for funds. Certification also increases the potential for insurance reimbursement and the ability to seek other sources of funding.

A complete copy of the report is on the DHS Web site (PDF).