August 2017 Column

Hobbs Municipal Schools is considering opening a School Based Health Clinic located on the campus of Hobbs High School.  This comes after a multiyear study and community topic of discussion.

School Based Health clinics are not a new fad.  Many school districts throughout the state have had clinics on their campuses for several years.  HMS staff has visited clinics in Carlsbad, Lovington and multiple sites in Albuquerque.  Each clinic is unique in that it varies with the wants and needs of the particular campus or district.  Albuquerque High School’s clinic was a retro fit and had to make do with limited space. Therefore, its clinic has limited services and support. Atrisco Heritage High School, also in Albuquerque, designed their clinic when they built their school.  In Las Cruces, teen pregnancies declined after the opening of health clinics which offered family planning.

A group of 60 community Leaders have spent up to two years developing a plan to lower Lea County's high teen pregnancy rate. New Mexico has one of the highest national teenage pregnancy rates and Lea County is near the top when it comes to state teen pregnancy rates. One of the recommendations from the community group was for the schools to consider a comprehensive school based clinic.  Successful clinics include basic healthcare, behavioral health and reproductive care. 

Upon gathering the data, visiting sites and participating in community meetings, Hobbs Municipal Schools began the task of creating a model to fit our community.  A School Based Health Clinic is managed by a medical provider through a legal agreement with the district that covers the expectations of service and responsibilities for each entity.  The clinic is typically located on the school district’s property.  HMS has identified a few criteria we would like to have as part of the operation of the clinic. They include:

  • Providing basic health care to include immunizations, generic prescription drugs and address illnesses such as colds and viruses
  • Providing behavioral health
  • Providing family planning to include distribution of contraceptives
  • Providing healthcare for undocumented students

Needless to say the topic, family planning services have generated the most conversation. A provider which accepts Title X funds must provide contraceptives to youth without notifying the parents due to Federal Regulations.  This is not a new situation. Our students can currently go to the Hobbs Health Clinic and receive the same services with the same guarantee.  However, the research we’ve done shows students may not venture out to seek these services. If a clinic is readily available, they are more likely to use their services.

I must admit that I had not been a proponent for providing family planning in the form of contraceptives on a school campus. As times have changed, however, so has my conviction.  Until recently, HMS used an abstinence only policy for sex education.  But the lack of impact on our teen birth rates has led us to change our thinking.  The great work provided by MyPower along with variables we have no control has shown a decrease in teen pregnancy, BUT the numbers are still alarmingly high.  In order to give our children, the greatest opportunity to succeed, we must give them options that are pertinent to their lifestyles.

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