Seattle’s alternative schools will soon have a free clinic available for students at the Columbia Center Interagency Academy. Levy funds, allocated from the city of Seattle, will help to open the clinic which will be staffed by Group Health workers.
Alicia West is a student at the alternative school. She’s 19, and finishing up some credits so she can attend nursing school. She’s also raising her son, Xavion. “He’s going to turn 11 months old. His birthday is in August, I’m excited for that, planning for that.”
West says the clinic will be a huge help for students, especially for those who face difficult issues at home. “Before, when I was underage, I needed my parents’ permission for everything. Birth control, any prescriptions, anything,” she said. “If you don’t have that, or you don’t have a close relationship with your parents, it’s hard to get access to what you need.”
Brenda McGhee, who works for the Interagency Academy, said the free clinic will cover a range of services such as physicals, eye care appointments, STD appointments, prenatal care and contraceptives. It extends beyond the normal school infirmary in that they’ll be able to perform exams, write prescriptions, and offer mental health services.
McGhee said it’s important that the students be able to access those services in-house. “Sometimes our kids don’t feel good. Our kids have a lot of different arenas that they come from,” she explained. “Some come from well-connected families, some kids are homeless, and something in between. So, knowing that they have a place that now belongs to their school, that they can come and talk to health care professionals, I think will be a great addition.”
The funding for the clinic comes from the Families and Education levy funds. The clinic will open this fall, and will likely serve around 1,000 alternative school students per year.