School-Based Health Clinic Causes Changes in Student Services

By Ajete Kolari

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Starting next year, Niles West will have a school based health clinic run by Heartland Health Centers, which administrators say will provide health care to both uninsured and insured students.

The school board approved this change last year but it will not take effect until next year. The new health clinic will be in the nurses office which will be restructured to accommodate new equipment that will be needed to run the clinic.

“Some people don’t have health insurance and they wait too long for the care that they need,” said assistant principal of student services Antwan Babakhani. 

However, certain changes within student services have already began to shift. Students without an IEP, 504 Plan or special education classification must go see their academic counselors who have type 73 certificates from ASCA (American School Counselor Association). With this certification, counselors are trained to help students deal with everyday problems that are not within the “crisis” category.

The response has been negative for some of the students that this change is affecting including senior Delanie Kwiecinski.

“I feel like I have no in school resources to work through things, she said. “Plus, there was no warning about not being able to see them anymore. There should have been at least a letter sent home explaining this to us students and to our parents.”

For years, counselors have teamed up with deans and social workers/psychologists to provide support for every Niles West student. Now that team of three has gone down to a team of two.

“Loss of teaming has been a very significant change this year,” said counselor Ann Alegnani. “It is sad because not every student has access to a social worker.”

Students say this is a difficult transition to go from seeing their counselors as academic mentors, to social and emotional confidants which can create an uncomfortable relationship.

“It makes me uncomfortable. I feel like they are supposed to be helping me with my classes, not my personal problems,” Kwiecinski said.

Next year, the health clinic in the nurses office will give all students immediate care provided they have written consent from their parents. This allows for the clinic to collect data on the students and, according to the Heartland Prospectus, “gives D219 and Heartland a unique opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research into the connection between on-site primary health care and student achievement.”