Fresno Unified trustees approved a partnership Wednesday night with two health care institutions for six new school-based health centers.
And more could be on the horizon, but finding school nurses for the sites could be a challenge.
Board members agreed with a partnership with Clinica Sierra Vista and Valley Children’s Healthcare for the six sites. Clinica will be responsible for operating the centers and Valley Children’s will be responsible for capital costs for buildings and equipment.
The new health centers will be at Addams and Bakman elementary schools and Tehipite and Sequoia middle schools. Duncan Polytechnic and Sunnyside high schools also will be sites.
The district currently has one health center at Gaston Middle School that is operated by Clinica.
West side underserved?
Board member Carol Mills, who made the motion to approve the partnership for the centers, asked Clinica and Valley Children’s to return in 90 days with recommendations for more sites. The six proposed sites are in areas of need, she said, but leave out much of the western half of the district.
Todd Suntrapak, CEO of Valley Children’s, said the six centers will meet a need in the community. Last year, 37,599 children within a 3-mile radius of the six proposed centers were treated by Valley Children’s, he said.
“We have a lot of ability to deliver the types of services that these kids and families need,” he said.
But new sites are not out of the question, said Stephen Schilling, CEO at Clinica. Additional sites can be considered, he said.
School nurse shortage
The district plans to provide a school nurse at the proposed six new centers, and school nurses praised the board for adding health centers but said the district already has a shortage of school nurses.
Fresno Unified has 43 nurses and probably will be down to 32 next year, said Teri Reichert, a school nurse responsible for seven schools, from preschools to high schools, in the district.
“It takes 18 nurses to cover the high schools and our specialized clinics,” she said. “That leaves 18 school nurses to cover 82 schools. I bring this to your attention because it is past crisis mode.”
The board directed staff to come back with budget recommendations for staffing the centers with school nurses.