Student Health Clinic planning underway

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2002

A new face in Albert Lea high school next year will not only provide basic health care; the Student Health Center coordinator is also set to be a resource for student’s mental and emotional health.

School officials hope to hire a registered nurse to fill the position, which is funded through grants from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Freeborn County Family Services Collaborative.

The district already has a full-time school nurse, but her time is divided among all six schools. Organizers hope having a constant presence in the school will encourage students to visit the nurse before they need an excuse to go home.

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&uot;This center will cover health in its broadest sense,&uot; said advisory board member Dr. Thoburn Thompson. &uot;If one aspect of a student’s life is breaking down it can affect all the other parts, including their physical health.&uot;

High school principal Alan Root said the coordinator would organize annual health screenings and perform free sports physicals in addition to being a resource for student information.

&uot;We want to consolidate services students need &045; kind of one-stop shopping for information and referrals,&uot; Root explained.

The health center will offer more complete information on eating disorders, depression, alcohol and drug abuse and multiple other issues that are common teen problems. It will try to assist students in deciding if they need more extensive help, then refer them to specialized agencies in the community.

Carol Haun, another advisory board member, commented the center will work toward training young people to be proactive about their health.

Planners of the new high school envisioned adding the clinic down the road, so they built in an office for that purpose. Since then, school board members, county officials and community members have been working toward making the clinic a reality.