When Reavis Elementary School’s health center opened up eight years ago, it had the best intentions for providing a wide range of health services to both Reavis students and the greater community.
After its initial “newness” in the neighborhood faded, Reavis’ health center currently isn’t what it could be.
“I believe that it is being utilized, but it’s not fully being utilized,” said Reavis Principal, Gail King. “More families could use it.”
Reavis’ health center is one of five that received a grant through Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC). All of the schools have a 90 percent or higher rate of students who are from low-income households. In 2015, each of the schools’ health centers were given over $50,000 from LISC.
According to Chris Brown, the director of education programs at LISC, Reavis’ center sees fewer patients than the other schools.
“Reavis is our smallest school and has the lowest numbers for health center visits because of that,” Brown said.
Those visits average about 90 per month, according to the Quad Communities Development Corporation, who is a partner with the health center.
The health center has three exam rooms, an on-site laboratory, one nurse practitioner and one clinical social worker. The services provided include internal medicine, women’s health, mental health and domestic violence outreach. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on the weekends.
Brenda Bannor, a health consultant for LISC, said that when the center first opened, community involvement and interest was high.
“The whole community was involved in creating this health center. People even chose collectively what the colors of the rooms would be and how they would like to see it work out,” she said.
So what happened between then and now to have almost no community visits to the health center that was originally catered to and for the community?
One big problem is that the entrance to the health center is inside of the school.
“The center has been limited in seeing community members because of the location of the health center within the school in the back of the building and not really visible from the street,” said Brown in a written statement.
To enter the health center as a community member, one would have to go through the school’s entrance to access it. Right now as it is, there is really no way for the community to know about or use the health center as it was intended.
The center, which is run by Near North Health Service Corporation, is meant to have the same experience and outcome of going to a family doctor’s office, but King said that is also one of the problems.
“Most families already have a doctor somewhere else, so they don’t want to switch over,” she said. “But they can use both and have the same beneifts.”
For 2016, community outreach will make the health center more visible to the community, and hopefully, more utilized. There are confirmed plans to build a community door as a separate entrance to the health center.
The center has also provided immunizations and school physicals for several local schools in recent months, according to Near North. Better marketing towards the community will promote its many uses to not only Reavis students, but other students and families in the area.
[Via: Hyde Park Herald]