Schools notebook // Southwest clinic

Southwest to get new on-campus clinic

LINDEN HILLS — After its previous clinic closed suddenly in 2008, Southwest High School will again have an on-campus clinic this school year.

A plan to expand Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support-operated school-based clinic services to Southwest was approved July 20 by the School Board. The city department runs clinics at the sites of six of the district’s high school programs.

Southwest has gone without a clinic since June 2008, when Teenage Medical Services [TAMS], the adolescent outpatient health service of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, shuttered the independent operation. In a written statement released at the time, Children’s Hospitals cited “financial challenges” as the reason for closing.

“They just pulled out,” recalled Mary Heiman, the district’s nursing service manager, who added there was little advance warning of the decision.

Heiman said the school-based clinics are a convenient option for students, who don’t have to leave campus for routine exams like sports physicals. TAMS clinic staff also could make health diagnoses, prescribe medication, administer immunizations and provide other health care services.

Statistics provided by the district after the 2008 closing of Southwest’s TAMS clinic indicated about half the students who used the service in the previous year were uninsured or underinsured. When TAMS pulled out, it left Southwest as the only one of the city’s seven traditional high schools without a school-based clinic.

Heiman said the licensed school nurse at Southwest often referred students needing clinical services to a TAMS site at 2425 Chicago Ave. S. during the interim. Some uninsured students sought care at other community-based clinics with a sliding-scale pay system, she added.

Heiman said it was difficult to judge the impact on Southwest students’ health. Still, it was reasonable to assume some students missed out on scheduled immunizations, follow-up visits and other types of routine care, she said.

The district’s amended lease agreement with the Department of Health and Family Support will shift one of its six school-based clinics from Broadway High School to Southwest. Broadway, located at 1250 W. Broadway Ave., was home to the district’s Teenage Pregnant and Parenting Program, or TAPPP.

The School Board in May voted to build a new district headquarters on the Broadway site. Next year, TAPPP will relocate to North High School.

Heiman said the new Southwest clinic most likely would open in October. It will re-use the former TAMS clinic space, already outfitted with a waiting area, several exam rooms, offices and a lab, she said.

“It’s a true clinic space,” Heiman said.

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Jackie Turner headed to St. Paul

The district’s executive director of Family and Community Engagement, Jackie Turner, left Minneapolis Public Schools in July to take a similar position with St. Paul Public Schools.

The district reported Turner’s last day was July 23. An 11-year veteran of the district’s administrative offices, she worked in various areas including public relations, student placement and school choice.

Turner contributed to several major district projects, including: the North Side Initiative; the parent-involvement program Connecting Parents to Educational Opportunities; and a community engagement process to generate redevelopment ideas for empty district properties.

Staff in the Office of Family and Community Engagement will work directly under the office of Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson until a replacement for Turner is hired, district spokesperson Emily Lowther said.

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District campaign aimed at dropouts

Minneapolis Public Schools and the Youth Coordinating Board aim to bring 200 dropouts back into the city’s school system this school year, the district reported in July.

The We Want You Back campaign was designed to attract un-enrolled youth and put them back on track for graduation. Minneapolis Public Schools is offering options to complete graduation requirements through its Area Learning Centers, alternative school sites and online courses, the district reported.

The Youth Coordinating Board, an organization that works with the city, county and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to promote the health, safety, education and development of the city’s children and youth, planned to train up to 1,000 volunteers to connect with young dropouts at city events over the summer and encourage them to return to school. Those events include the Empower Me! Conference for youth Aug. 14 and 15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

That effort leads up to a citywide door-knocking campaign Sept. 11, the second Saturday of the school year, where volunteers aim to find un-enrolled students. District staff will work with the volunteers to re-enroll willing youth immediately.

The We Want You Back campaign model is based on similar, successful efforts in Houston and Philadelphia, the district reported.