Written by The Business Journal Staff
Camarena Health broke ground recently on its newest clinic, which will be located on the Madera South High School campus.
The site will be the first school-based community health center in Madera County.
The number of school-based health centers has increased nationally over the last few years as they’ve been shown to provide better access. In the Central Valley, United Health Centers has a facility on the Parlier High School campus and Clinica Sierra Vista, which currently has a school-based health center at Gaston Middle School in Fresno, recently partnered with Valley Children’s Healthcare and Fresno Unified to bring six more to campuses throughout the district.
Camarena Health CEO Paulo Soares said he is proud to partner with Madera Unified to bring the much-needed school-based facility to the residents of Madera.
“We’re very excited about the fact that this is going to be the first school-based health center in Madera County,” Soares said. “We’re privileged to serve the great residents of this community and we couldn’t have picked a better partner to join with in this endeavor.”
The 4,300 square-foot facility, set to open this fall, will house the Madera South High School’s nurse’s office for students and administration to access during the school day and will also have a secure community entrance allowing families and community members to access care throughout the day.
The clinic will be similar to other Camarena Health centers in the area, and will provide a full-range of health care services including medical, dental, behavioral health and health education services.
The clinic will also be able to assist families in the community with insurance information and enrollment services.
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) said the access the clinic will provide is vast, and though he joked that “little Jimmy Costa” wouldn’t have liked being sent to the clinic on campus and right back to class when he tried to get out of taking a big test, he said the access is essential for kids to have when they do get sick.
“I’ve seen these school-based health clinics work, and they work for the students, they work for the school, they work for the parents because when the parents come and pick up their kids, they have access and can go to the clinic to get their flu shots and get the care they need,” Costa said.
“That is why this is so important. It is great for Camarena Health but even greater for the citizens of Madera County, the students and the families who will benefit as a result of this clinic.”
In addition to providing health care services, the school based health center will support Madera Unified’s Career Technical Education (CTE) programs by providing learning opportunities in the health center to both students and teachers participating in health care pathway courses within the district.
“This is going to be an opportunity for our [health CTE] students to have access to a working functional clinic right here on this campus, which will be a model for what we build at our new high school in a few years. It will set the stage for a whole new level of partnership with our community and our Career Technical Education,” Interim Superintendent Todd Lile said.
Soares said the education component is as vital to Camarena Health as providing care because they want to foster youth and encourage them to become health care professionals to meet the growing demand on the industry.
“There is no better place to do that than right here on a high school campus with an actual facility that is providing medical, dental, behavioral health services and health education,” Soares said.