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How School Health Clinics Help Students and Families Access Care

An Hispanic teenage girl sits on an examination table as her little sister tenderly leans against her arm.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Takes Innovative Approach to Physical and Mental Health in Historically Underserved Areas

By

Lorna Fernandes

At the center of the McClymonds High School quad in West Oakland is a door surrounded by a red “McClymonds Warriors” banner. A sign reads “Chappell Hayes Health Center,” and the door opens to couches in a warm and spacious waiting room. On the wall is a large portrait of Chappell Hayes, a local political activist and the clinic’s namesake. Down the hallway are fully equipped medical exam rooms.

This is not your typical “school nurse’s office.” This health clinic is one of two located at Oakland high schools that are staffed by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCH Oakland) physicians, nurses, social workers and therapists. The McClymonds clinic and the Youth UpRising Castlemont health clinic, located across town in East Oakland next to Castlemont High, are part of an innovative initiative to provide comprehensive primary and mental health care to historically underserved students and neighbors in the surrounding communities.

“Students schedule appointments or come in for same-day needs for services ranging from well care to sports physicals, vaccinations, reproductive health care like condoms and birth control, health education sessions and behavioral health therapy,” said Celeste Allen, MD, the attending physician who has worked at the clinic since 2006. “These young people have after-school jobs, responsibilities to care for siblings and other commitments that often make it difficult for them to take care of their health needs on their own time, but fitting appointments in between classes only a short walk away, is absolutely doable.”

The clinics are open weekdays for mental health appointments from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. either in person or via telehealth. Seven BCH Oakland physicians rotate days at the clinics,

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