|By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press|
Now, Barrales, who does not have health insurance, can walk a couple of blocks to
"This is something so necessary here. A lot of people don't have insurance, and they don't have the means to go to
The clinic is one of 14 new "wellness centers" that the
While a smattering of school clinics across the nation have long been open to the public, more are looking to expand their patient base to reap revenue that can subsidize the care often given for free to youngsters as well as fill a dire larger need for community health care access.
"The more folks you're seeing, the more revenue you're generating," said
About 1,800 school-based centers, which are usually run by a nonprofit or public health care provider in school-owned buildings, operate across the country. They provide a combination of primary care, mental health counseling, dental and vision screenings, and health education and prevention to youth who may have grown up with few, if any, doctor visits.
Around since the 1980s, school health clinics received a shot in the arm from the federal Affordable Care Act, which earmarked
The federal funding, though, does not cover operational expenses, and more providers are looking to become financially sustainable in an era of shrinking public money and increasing competition for private donations that typically fund school clinics. Some clinics have closed in recent years.
With health care reform approaching, school-community health centers are also ramping up to enroll people in public insurance programs that will become available.
"We're looking at long-term sustainable plans," said
One Los Angeles Unified school center that has served the community for a long time has been successful doing that, she noted.
About four school-based health centers have opened to the general public in California's
Other clinics are choosing a more limited model that serves school staff, who have private insurance, and students' families.