Saturday, October 4, 2008

New medical clinic at Glencliff High opens its doors to the community

Health services are available to underserved neighborhood By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD 259-8268 • October 3, 2008 Glencliff High School is taking an active role in promoting a healthy community. The school recently partnered with United Neighborhood Health Services to open a clinic at the school that serves students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding community. Many of the clinic's patients are uninsured. The clinic is the fifth that United Neighborhood Health Services has opened in the Metro school system. "We have a 15-year history in the school system," said Walter Stuart, director of school programs for United Neighborhood Health Services. The Glencliff clinic provides screenings, physical examinations, immunizations and sex education, said nurse practitioner Luz Salazar, who sees patients daily. She said the clinic treats a wide range of diseases, including asthma, diabetes, upper respiratory infections and high blood pressure. "We encourage them to be healthy," said Salazar, adding this includes urging good eating habits and staying current on immunizations. The clinic also offers some behavioral health services and will begin providing care by an adolescent behavioral health specialist in January. "If we cannot provide service, we make referrals," Salazar said. Students receive services for free Any student in Metro Schools may receive services for free at the clinic. Although the clinic files insurance claims for students with insurance, the students do not have to pay a deductible or make a co-payment. Uninsured area residents are served on a sliding scale. The clinic also accepts TennCare, Medicare and commercial insurance. "These clinics are important because so many of Nashville students are economically disadvantaged," Stuart said. The clinic will provide consistent health care for those who otherwise might not be getting the services they need because of lack of income, he said. "Our students and this community often go without health care," said Glencliff High School's principal, Tony Majors. "This is an important service we can provide. We care about our students and their families." Also, added Majors, "a healthy student is better able to learn." Majors said the clinic's opening has opened doors for organizations to start providing health and wellness services for Glencliff students and the surrounding community. Parents must consent Salazar, who graduated from Vanderbilt and is fluent in Spanish, is qualified to serve the community's large Spanish-speaking population. There are also many in the community who are Asian or Middle Eastern. Salazar said someone usually comes with the patient to serve as a translator if the patient doesn't speak English or Spanish. "Sometimes it's a family member who helps them or another student," she said. "It's kind of like a team." The clinic sent home consent forms for parents to sign at the beginning of the school year indicating which services they wanted their children to receive or not receive. "We do not see anyone without parental consent, because it is a school clinic," she said. But, she added, "If it's an emergency, we provide service." Pamela Stiles said her niece, Bobbie Jo Puryer, who is a senior at Glencliff, went to the clinic earlier this year for a physical she had to have to be on the bowling team. "They found that her blood was low, so they gave her some iron pills," she said. "It has gone unnoticed a long time." If it weren't for the clinic visit, Stiles said, they don't know when the problem would have been discovered. "I was actually considered anemic before," Bobbie Jo said. Shetold Salazar her history of anemia, and Salazar ordered some lab work. Bobbie Jo said her experience at the clinic was pleasant: "They were very friendly. They make you feel welcome."

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