Variety Care announced plans Tuesday to open a community health center on Capitol Hill High School's campus.
The clinic will serve not only students but also their parents and the high school's faculty and staff.
Variety Care CEO Lou Carmichael said in a news release that Variety Care has been working with the high school's administrators for the past few years to try to develop the clinic.
“School-based health centers across the nation have had tremendous effects on the students and community members they serve,” Carmichael said. “In addition to keeping children healthier and in the classroom, school health centers also provide students with positive, professional role models in an appealing career field.”
Variety Care is a nonprofit community health center with several locations in Oklahoma.
Initially, Variety Care will start weekly visits in two rooms inside the high school. But by August, Variety Care plans to have a modular building that will have three exam rooms and a waiting area.
The clinic was made possible through a $335,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services' Health Resources Service Administration, a federal agency that works to improve health care access for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.
The Capitol Hill clinic will accept Medicaid and most private insurance, and uninsured patients will be able to pay cash for care along a sliding-fee scale based on income. Also, children who are uninsured will be covered under a Variety Care partnership with the United Way of Central Oklahoma.
About 95 percent of students at Capitol Hill High School qualify for free or reduced lunches, a program that has income guidelines similar to SoonerCare, Oklahoma's Medicaid program.
Capitol Hill High School, at 500 SW 36, has a high teen pregnancy rate, and by providing on-site health care, the school hopes to see a decrease in the number of teen mothers who drop out of school, said Carol Martin, Variety Care's director of patient services.
One of the goals of the clinic is to keep students in school while providing them with health care in an environment they feel comfortable in, Martin said.
This isn't the first attempt to provide health care to Oklahoma City high school students. A clinic for pregnant girls and young mothers was open at Emerson Alternative High School for nearly 30 years before it was closed in 2009. It was run by OU Medical Center. The state Legislature cut funding to the state Health Department in 2009, and in turn, the department cut several programs, including the Emerson clinic.