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Roving health clinic parks at Medford high schools

La Clinica's Mobile Health Center makes it convenient for students at North and South Medford high schools to get medical care without having to leave campus or call mom or dad for a ride home.

"Our goal is to keep kids in school, and if kids can be treated and go back to class, then that's what we want," said Todd Bloomquist, director of secondary education for the Medford School District.

In December, La Clinica added the two high schools to its weekly rotation, which includes stops at Roosevelt and Wilson elementary schools in Medford, Phoenix High School and three public sites. The clinic on wheels is parked in front of South Medford High on Monday mornings and North Medford High on Fridays. Hours at both locations are 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Purchased two years ago with a federal grant, La Clinica's 39-foot mobile unit includes two small exam rooms, two dentist chairs with X-ray capabilities, a lab counter, pharmacy cupboard and one-seat waiting area.

"It's a Winnebago shell and was built by a company up near Portland (American Dental Industries) to be used specifically as a medical health unit," said David Dismuke, La Clinica's community outreach coordinator.

In a single morning, La Clinica's team of medical professionals, including a nurse, medical assistant, office specialist and rotating nurse practitioner, are capable of providing primary care services to six to eight students. At present, the team is meeting its patient goals at Roosevelt, Wilson and Phoenix High but is averaging about four patients a week at each of the Medford high schools, Dismuke said.

In November, both high schools sent out newsletters with information about the mobile clinic and hosted open house tours, and word is still getting out, Bloomquist said.

"We have nurses for our whole school district, not necessarily at each site, who get called for specific medical situations, but this allows us to have more support at these sites," he said. "We have about 1,800 kids at each of the high schools, and that's a lot."

Students can make an appointment in the front office, and La Clinica handles all the paperwork and billing. Uninsured students are billed on a sliding scale.

At Phoenix High, one of La Clinica's busiest locations, ailments vary from rashes and menstrual cramps to anxiety and depression, said principal Jani Hale.

La Clinica began offering its mobile service at the high school in 2012. Hale recalled that the clinic's first patient was a young man who needed some dental work done.

"They gave him a smile ... and I think he got a girlfriend after that," Hale said.

Staff at Phoenix High are meeting today to brainstorm ways to increase the number of students who take advantage of the clinic.

"We know that there are more kids who have medical health issues who should be going," Hale said.

Office manager Diane Wolff added, "Bottom line, an on-site nurse would be great, but La Clinica fills the gap."

"We are grateful that they are here."

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Nurse Tami Askren demonstrates one of the examining rooms in La Clinica’s Mobile Health Center. - Bob Pennell