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Capitol care

A health care center is launching a freestanding facility at Capitol Hill High School in south OKC.

Rachael Cervenka March 20th, 2013

A disadvantaged Oklahoma City high school has high hopes for change now that its community will begin receiving onsite access to medical care.

Lou Carmichael
By: Mark Hancock

Variety Care, a nonprofit community health care center, has received a $335,000 grant to construct a freestanding building at Capitol Hill High School in south OKC.

The nonprofit provides affordable, accessible health care in medically underserved areas. At Capitol Hill, where teen pregnancy and dropout rates are high, a center like this is of the utmost importance, said Variety Care CEO Lou Carmichael.

“Statistics have proven that if people stay in preventative and primary care, in the long run, they are much healthier and usually have a much higher quality of life,” she said.

Capitol Hill students, faculty and families connected to the school can utilize the services provided by Variety Care. The center will offer medical and behavioral care on the school premises as well as dental and vision screenings. The implementation of healthy lifestyle and mental health education programs is also in the works.

Variety Care’s services are not fully dependent on health insurance. It does accept Medicaid and most private insurance, but uninsured patients can pay cash for care along a sliding-fee scale based on their income. Uninsured children are entirely covered under a Variety Care partnership with the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

Capitol Hill Principal Alex Souza said he hopes the center will better educate the school community on how to medically treat themselves when they are ill and, in turn, lead to quick recoveries and prevention. The availability of the facility should also result in higher attendance rates, he said.

“A student won’t have to miss a half day of school to go see a clinic for a cold. They can actually be in class and then go to their appointment and then go back to class,” Souza said.

Capitol Hill administrators had been determined to bring some form of health care to the campus. Once the partnership with Variety Care was secured, a two-year planning process ensued. Neither organization had the funding to make the stand-alone center a reality, however, without a federal grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

Variety Care officials, who are also opening a similar clinic at Emerson Alternative High School, are hopeful the Capitol Hill site will be operational by May.

“I think everybody wishes that their friends and neighbors were healthy and well. And if we can find ways to make that happen in public-private partnerships, we are all in,” Carmichael said.

“We’re here for the journey towards making health and wellness more of a reality in Oklahoma.”

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