West Oakland Middle School Opens Health Center

Josefina Alvarado-Mena

The West Oakland Middle School community recently celebrated the opening of a new school-based health and family resource center, made possible by Lifelong Medical Care, Alameda County, the City of Oakland, and Safe Passages. The health center offers comprehensive medical, dental health, health education and youth development services under one roof, as well as a resource center that provides family support and educational services. The expansion of health and family services at West Oakland Middle School, located at 991-14th St. in Oakland, includes a triage room, two medical exam rooms, a dental exam room, separate medical and dental laboratories, an area for medical providers to chart, a conference room and three confidential consult rooms. The Family Resource Center, spread between two floors, provides offices for mental health services, a space with equipment for families to exercise, on-site laundry, multiple training and workshop rooms, and a kitchenette. “Healthy communities are a prerequisite for healthy kids and strong schools, so it’s essential that we address the conditions in our city which interfere with the development of children,” said school district Superintendent Tony Smith. “It’s unconscionable that a Black boy born in West Oakland has a life expectancy 15 years less than that of his white counterpart born in the Oakland Hills,” he said. The planning for the West Oakland Middle School Health Center and Family Resource Center began five years ago when the City of Oakland, Alameda County, the school district, Youth Ventures, Safe Passages (lead entity) and Atlantic Philanthropies partnered to create five full-service community schools at West Oakland, Madison, Roosevelt, United for Success and Coliseum College Preparatory/ROOTS. “The idea is to keep the children and their families at the center of the work,” said Josefina Alvarado-Mena, CEO of Safe Passages, the lead entity for the Elev8 Oakland. “We know that there is no magic bullet and that the answer lies in the integration of a multitude of services and professionals working together towards one end goal –to improve the lives and outcomes of our most important asset – our youth,” she said. The health center is operated by LifeLong Medical Care, which has been providing health services to West Oakland residents since 2007 through its downtown Oakland clinic at 16th and Jefferson. “There are so many challenges for our youth today, ranging from asthma to lack of accessibility to healthy foods,” said Brenda Shipp, COO of LifeLong Medical Care.
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