Student health center good for all

As the finishing touches are put on the new Central Health and Wellness Center in preparation of its open house Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., we want to extend a hearty thank you to all who made it happen, and ahead of schedule.

From the feasibility study — to see if a student-based health center was needed in Monmouth and Independence, and if it would be self-sustaining — to the collaboration between so many health partners; from Dalke Construction Co. Inc., who kept plans ahead of schedule, to all those who awarded grants to the project.

If you haven’t heard about it, Central Health and Wellness Center will provide all students in Polk County — and, well, the entire community — with health, mental health and dental care.

Not to be confused with a free medical clinic, the health and wellness center will accept insurance, just like any other doctor’s office. The medical side of the health center will be run by Salem Health. Capitol Dental will provide the dental services. Polk County will provide mental health services.

One thing that sets it apart is it will accept the Oregon Health Plan, where other doctors may not.

The services are needed, particularly in this county, where more than 70 percent of students in Central School District are on free and reduced lunches, meaning they are at or below federal poverty level. In Falls City, students on free and reduced lunches also is high. The poverty level there, coupled with the lack of local medical services, means this new health center will provide much-needed help for Falls City students.

Importantly, the center will bring infant-toddler care, with priority on children of teen parents. This will let teen mothers and fathers go back to the classroom to finish their diplomas without fear of providing adequate child care for their young ones. Western Oregon University’s The Research Institute will provide the child care.

The result of so much collaboration between so many different organizations is a convenient, accessible, complete health care experience for our communities.

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