Grand Junction, CO – Friday, August 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm will be the ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the first School-Based Health Center (SBHC) in Mesa County. The new School Based Health Center, named the Warrior Wellness Center, will be located at Central High School (CHS) and expects to open when school resumes on Monday, August 17th.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, this will not be a public ribbon cutting and open house. Representatives from SD51 Administration and MarillacHealth, the medical sponsor, will participate in the official ribbon cutting. The ceremonial event will be recorded and shared with the media, partners, and on each of our websites. Representatives include Dr. Diana Sirko, Superintendent; Dr. Amy Davis, School Board Member; Lanc Sellden, Central High School Principal; and Dr. Jolene Joseph, MarillacHealth Chief Operating Officer.
The impetus for opening a SBHC can be traced to 2017 when our community was rocked by opioid overdoses and several teen suicides. When the Colorado Health Institute published a report on at-risk school populations which pinpointed three D51 schools, local representatives of education, healthcare, government and nonprofits convened in early 2018 to discuss establishing a SBHC. A Planning Grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as well as support from Western Colorado Community Foundation and many of the organizations on the advisory committee kicked off this assessment and planning. The group contracted with the Colorado Association for School-Based Health Care (CASBHC) to provide assessment and planning.
Stakeholders identified mental health needs as the most critical student health concern. Anxiety, stress, eating and weight issues are chief worries; students and staff also pointed to alcohol/drug use and “feeling sad.” Staff reported emotional issues impact student attendance and academic achievement more than any other factors.
Students will benefit from increased ability to learn, access to preventive health care services and early intervention. By having a SBHC with integrated primary care, behavioral health and oral health services, the transportation and time management barriers that most parents face would be reduced by their children’s ability to receive health and behavioral services at the school noted Dr. Crystal Owens, Chief Medical Officer at MarillacHealth. The new SBHC has the potential to serve over 1,500 students enrolled in CHS, as well as CHS staff and faculty.
Presentations were made to the D51 School Board in 2018 and 2019. A resolution was passed January 22, 2019 supporting the establishment of a SBHC.
Warrior Wellness Center will follow the school calendar and be open 7:30 am – 4:30 pm each day.
MarillacHealth (formerly Marillac Clinic) has been delivering care for 32 years in Mesa County serving thousands of uninsured and underinsured families and individuals of all ages. Since becoming a Federally Qualified Community Health Center in 2015, patient visits have increased, quality of care has improved and services have expanded. Marillac provided 58,074 visits to 12,145 patients in 2019, more than doubling growth since 2015. Marillac delivers care at six sites in Mesa County.