GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa County is helping students stay strong and healthy. The Warrior Wellness Center located at Central High School is the county’s 1st school-based health center, prepared to provide CHS students with a cornucopia of health needs.
The initial idea for the school-based health center traces back to 2017 when the community was rocked by opioid overdoses and several teen suicides. In response, local educators, healthcare workers, government and nonprofits met to establish an easily accessible health center for students and faculty.
What used to be a section of Central High School’s cafeteria is now a school-based health center. The center is affiliated with Marillac Health, and it is providing students access to primary care, behavioral health, and dentistry survives.
Lanc Sellden, the principal of Central High School, says that the school-based health center provides more help than a nurse’s office. It has examine beds that mimic what students would see at other primary physicians’ offices, and for example, if a student had a sore throat for the last 2 or 3 weeks, which is something he/she would normally have to go to the doctor’s office for, he/she can walk down the hall and get help instead.
Dr. Jolene Joseph adds that the center offers meetings with a licensed addiction counselor who has a masters in social work. She says, “if they want to speak with someone about feeling depressed, they would not necessarily need to go to the nurse for that, and they can come in and access those behavioral health services.”
Central High School parents are also pleased with this addition. Maria Andasola, a parent, says, “It is extremely helpful for parents. There are a lot of single parents out there and parents with even dual incomes who don’t always have the opportunity or the insurance.”
The school-based health center is funded through Marillac Health, which receives money through federal funding. So, no student will be asked to pay. This includes students without health insurance.
Although the center is only available to Central High School students, Dr. Joseph says, “Our dream would be that all of the high schools, the middle schools, even the elementary schools will have the opportunity for a school-based health center.”
CHS’s school-based health center is taking all the necessary precautions due to the pandemic. However, it is unsure if it will remain open if the school is forced to do virtual school.