Grants to provide new health center for Hiram Johnson, mobile clinic for San Juan Unified schools

Published: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Federal funds will build a new health clinic at Hiram Johnson High School and put a mobile health clinic on the road to serve five other schools in Sacramento County.

The two grants totaling nearly $877,000 come from the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A $376,774 grant for the mobile clinic was awarded to the nonprofit Midtown Medical Center for Children and Families.

The mobile clinic could be on the road as early as next spring, said Elizabeth Cassin, CEO of the medical center.

The mobile unit will provide primary, dental and mental health care to students who attend schools in low-income areas of the San Juan Unified School District. The mobile van will serve Encina High School and Greer, Edison, Howe and Dyer-Kelly elementary schools, said Nina Mancina, program specialist at San Juan Unified.

The federal health program also is providing $500,000 through The Effort – a chain of nonprofit safety-net clinics – and Sacramento City Unified to improve the student health clinic at Hiram Johnson High School.

A 2,900-square-foot modular unit will be renovated for the clinic and will replace the current clinic at the school in December 2014, said Janet Weeks, Sacramento City Unified spokeswoman.

"We are very excited about receiving these important funds," said Superintendent Jonathan Raymond in a prepared statement. "Not only will it serve the students at Johnson, but this will also reach out to other students in the greater community."

The current clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner who offers support and referrals but can't write prescriptions, Weeks said. Doctors and other medical staff from The Effort will join the nurse practitioner at the school clinic in the spring.

When the new clinic opens in the modular unit in 2014, it will serve the community as well as students, Weeks said. It will be separated from the high school, so adults from the community don't have access to students.

Cassin is excited about working with San Juan Unified on the mobile clinic project.

"We knew folks at San Juan for many years and their work is tremendous," she said.

"It will be a three-pronged approach," Cassin said. Doctors and dentists from the medical center will team up with staff from the district's White House Counseling Center.

The program will ensure that students get health and dental screenings and interventions, not just referrals, Cassin said.

The staff at Midtown Medical Center would like to expand the program to more schools and may eventually add stationary clinic space.

"We would very much hope to expand this with other partnerships and donations," Cassin said.

The office of Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said she was instrumental in obtaining the Affordable Care Act grants by formally supporting the projects.

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