M. Terry / SFVS

Dr. Apirada Petchpud works with a dental patient at the Teen Health Center.

When the Northeast Valley Health Corporation opened a Teen Health Center facility across the street from San Fernando High School in May 2015, it was still a work in progress. There were office and exam rooms to complete, in addition to hiring staff.

But now the center is fully operational.

Now it is a 5,300-square-foot health center that has four medical exam rooms, two dental rooms, three rooms for individual health counseling, a group health education room, a laboratory and a prescription dispensary.

The center provides medical, dental and behavioral services to more than 2,500 students attending San Fernando, MacAlister and Mission Continuation high schools.

“We are extremely proud to have one of the best and most comprehensive school-based health centers in the country,” said NEVHC CEO Kim Wyard.

“It is especially gratifying to have our supporters tour the clinic during National Health Center Week, which has been celebrated for more than three decades to recognize the contributions of community health centers across the country.”

Jan Marquard, the center’s grants administration and policy advisor, remembered when approximately half of the the services offered were done on the San Fernando High campus, primarily out of the school nurse’s office.

“Everything is consolidated into one place now,” Marquad said. “We can all work together.”

When the center first opened, it was toward the end of the school year. But since last August, when the 2015-16 school year started, usage of the center “picked up pretty quickly,” Marquard said.

And there have been aggressive marketing campaigns to spread the word throughout the neighboring communities about what the center can do, and its availability.

Marquad said the center still hopes to add one more dentist and medical doctor.

The medical and behavioral services offered by the clinic are only for the students at San Fernando High, including the continuation school, magnet school and school for pregnant teens. But the dental services are available for all students and Northeast Valley residents who qualify.

“We can get them insurance if they don’t have it. If not, we’ll see them anyway,” Marquard said.   

The center was visited by Rep. Tony Cardenas on Wednesday. And an invitation-only Open House takes place today, Aug, 11, on the San Fernando High campus from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., as part of National Health Center Week. Among those scheduled to attend are former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and L.A. City Councilmember Nury Martinez.  

NEVHC opened its first Teen Health Center in 1987 to provide comprehensive, onsite care for uninsured and medically underserved students. As one of three flagship health centers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, it was a pilot project funded primarily by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and staffed partially with UCLA Adolescent Medicine Faculty physicians and pediatric residents.

National Health Center Week is being celebrated by more than 1,300 community health organizations to highlight their proven success at providing access to high-quality, affordable health care to the medically underserved population. Currently, community health centers in the United States provide care to more than 25 million individuals, including more than seven million children, one million homeless individuals and 300,000 veterans.