Denver Health School-based Health Centers help kids get access to care

DENVER -- When kids head back to school, access to health care, mental health care and immunizations can be tough for some families, due to factors like cost or transportation.

But Denver Health’s School-based Health Centers will remove those barriers, providing care at no cost, and somewhere kids already are: at school.

“It provides the services to kids that, really, often times wouldn't get it, if we weren't in this setting,” said Jennifer Koch, with Denver Health.

Families say that access can be immensely helpful.

“We didn't have transportation,” said Janis Espinoza, whose daughter attended a DPS school.  “She got shots and stuff like that there.  It helped a lot.”

There are currently 17 Denver Health School-based Health Centers in schools, and a new one will be added at East High School this fall.

The clinics offer a full range of services including physicals, immunizations, asthma management, dental care, mental health care and substance abuse services.

“We see a lot of depression, a lot of anxiety, PTSD.  I've had kids who have psychotic disorders,” said Monica Morris, a school-based therapist at Lincoln High School.

She said the clinics offer more intensive services than those that can be provided by a school counselor.

“We provide in-depth psychotherapy,” she said.

The providers said they are seeing results.  Last year the clinics served more than 14,000 DPS students and about 2,200 of them got mental health and substance abuse counseling.

Morris hopes the students and their families will continue to reach out.

“If you are struggling please come and talk to us, because there is help, and if you reach out there is a hand," she said.

The centers are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information, check out the Denver Health website.

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