DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Health has 19 school-based health centers embedded inside Denver Public Schools.

Clinic administrators are glad that more and more migrant and refugee families are getting access to healthcare inside those schools.

The clinics can offer much more than a school nurse. Providers can test, diagnose, dispense medications and offer mental health therapy.

Julianne Puckett is the clinic coordinator at the Denver Health SBHC at Denver South High School. She said if students feel sick, they can be tested on-site for COVID, flu, RSV or strep, and then get medications if needed.

The program is funded in part by grants. Students can get confidential reproductive health care, immunizations, well checks and more – all at no cost to them. This means parents don’t have to take time off work.

“We talk to our parents on the phone, and then we can prescribe medication, and dispense it, because we are a pharmacy outlet and we can also do the follow-up care,” Puckett said.

Denver South High School has a very diverse population and dozens of languages are spoken in the building.

Jemima Safi came to the United States with her family from the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was 8 years old.  She said the school-based clinics were very convenient and helped her family a lot.

“I came here to the school-based health center for every and anything that I needed,” Safi said.

After graduation from South, she started working part-time in the school-based clinics as a youth advisor. 

She said her goal is, “making sure that there is more access for refugees and immigrants and young people in general, and just making sure that they get the health care they need.”

Puckett said most of the immigrants are now coming from Central America. She is glad to be able to offer them mental health therapy on-site if needed.

“When people come from other countries and maybe have been in terrible situations prior to coming here, they need extra support, and we can link them up with that very easily,” she said.

February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month.