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Education

University Health Opens School-Based Clinic On San Antonio’s West Side

An exam room at Health Center West on the Tafolla Middle School campus. The clinic opened Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
An exam room at Health Center West on the Tafolla Middle School campus.

A new clinic at Tafolla Middle School will make it easier for families in the neighborhood to access medical care for their children.

Health Center West, located in a portable building on the middle school campus, will serve students in the San Antonio Independent School District who attend Lanier High School and its feeder schools, including Tafolla.

The clinic will also be available to campus staff and siblings of students enrolled in West Side SAISD schools.

Health Center West accepts private insurance, CHIP, Medicaid and cash payments. Clinic staff will help families without insurance register for Bexar County’s financial assistance program, CareLink. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

“There is a need in particular in the central city for providing more health care services to kids,” said University Health System CEO George Hernandez at the clinic’s opening ceremony Tuesday. “It's (a critical part) of the educational process that they be healthy. If they're not healthy, they're not going to be in school. If they're not going to be in school it's going to have repercussions for them, for their families and (their) future.”

Hernandez said it’s harder to find a doctor today than when he was a child growing up on San Antonio’s South Side.

“There were little doctor’s offices all over our neighborhood, at least two or three that I remember on Nogalitos Street,” Hernandez said. “Today it's harder and harder to find doctors in our neighborhoods, particularly near SAISD, and that makes it difficult for kids who need to see a doctor to see a doctor (in a timely manner). And so we need to step up.”

Health Center West will be staffed by a University Health nurse practitioner who can provide primary care, including prescriptions, check-ups and immunizations.

University Health System's Health Center West is located in a portable building on the Tafolla Middle School campus.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
University Health System's Health Center West is located in a portable building on the Tafolla Middle School campus.

SAISD Board President Patti Radle, who represents the Lanier community, said the clinic will help parents who work long hours and have limited access to transportation to get them to a doctor’s office.

“Living in this neighborhood for over 50 years now, and witnessing the health challenges in this neighborhood and the accessibility (challenges) — to do something about those health challenges has been tremendous,” Radle said. “Finally, we have something that is right here in one of the most needy areas for health attention.”

Later this year, University Health and SAISD plan to open a second clinic in the district at Davis Middle School on the South East side. SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the clinics will support the district’s work to improve students’ academic outcomes in high poverty areas.

“We know that academics are getting stronger. We're seeing more children that are going to have more options beyond high school. And to add health to it, I just think it's another piece of the puzzle as we strengthen these communities,” Martinez said.

Health Center West is University Health System’s fourth school-based clinic, and the first in SAISD. The health system’s other clinics are located in the Harlandale, Southside and Southwest school districts.

The medical director for the school-based clinics, Dr. Suhaib Haq, said school attendance has improved since the clinics opened in those districts.

“That is the hugest impact when we look at (it) from the view of the school administration,” Haq said. “On-site, prompt care is the biggest health benefit. We are available on site. Parents can bring (their child), the nurse can refer (them), we can do on-site basic lab testing and prescribe the treatment.”

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille.