K-12 EDUCATION

West High School opens on-campus clinic for students

Mar 21, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2024, 1:08 am

west high school clinic...

West High School seniors Monse Sipres, left, and Keila Torres give information on the West High School Clinic in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. The clinic will provide a wide range of services to students (with parent consent), including preventative care, vaccinations, mental health support and general health care. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new University of Utah Health clinic is now open inside West High School. It is the first of its kind in Utah.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, school officials, policymakers and health professionals came together to unveil West High’s new clinic.

 

It’s a project that’s been two years in the making.

The University of Utah Health, the Salt Lake City School District, the Salt Lake Education Foundation, and State Sen. Luz Escamilla were among the stakeholders celebrating the opening with students.

“We’ve collaborated with other academic centers around the country to learn about their models and how they’re doing school-based healthcare, and we took that into account when we made our model,” said Christina Thuet, director of School-Based Health at the U of U Health.

“Then we’ve been fundraising to raise money for the remodel of the space for this clinic as well as fundraising for the operational costs of the clinic, so it’s been a really busy two years and amazing to see it come to fruition,” she added.

Benefits of school-based health clinics

Recent data from the School-Based Health Alliance shows students who can access care at school-based health centers are 21 times more likely to seek mental health services and less likely to report suicidal thoughts.

Thuet said this clinic is a great way to provide students with mental health resources and preventative healthcare, without having to miss school.

“It eliminates barriers for families, like transportation, parents or caregivers missing work or having to care for other students at home, as well as well as students not having to be out of class for a whole day, or a half day, or multiple days to receive care,” Thuet said. “So this is important for us to keep students where they need to be while providing access to critical services for them.”

Project leaders have also talked about being able to provide sports physicals for students, as long as they have a parent’s permission. This is just one of the many ways the clinic will be able to serve its students.

“At West High, this is the students’ clinic,” said Michael Good, CEO of U of U Health. “They’ve been instrumental in its design and in its operation and the University of Utah Health care professionals, particularly our pediatricians, are so proud to be here delivering that care where those barriers have been eliminated.”

Clinic services could soon expand

West High Principal Jared Wright shared a lot of pride for this project at Wednesday’s unveiling, and he says the services don’t stop at West High.

“[This will] eventually expand to the services of East High and Highland High School,” said Wright. “So all high school students in the Salt Lake City School district will have the chance to be here.”

Related: SLC school board votes to close four elementaries

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West High School opens on-campus clinic for students