School-based health clinics designed to help uninsured kids, families

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

The average cost of health-care premiums has more than doubled over the last 10 years, according to numerous national surveys.

The average cost for a family under an employer plan is well over $13,000 a year. While that cost has squeezed some families out of the insurance market, it does not mean they have to do without health care

With three active kids all younger than 10, Micaela Dalley knows how fast medical bills can add up.

"My kids love to get strep," she said. "So it is $100 in the door plus $35 to pay for a strep test plus another $35 or $40 for antibiotics. So that is almost a $160-$170 process right there."

That money comes right out of her pocket because Dalley does not have health insurance.

"We are paycheck-to-paycheck, and so the cheapest plan we found for my family was over $472 [per month]," she said. "That is over half of my mortgage. And that is what I use to feed my family for a month."

She said that left her feeling both frustrated and sometimes frightened.

"It can be very scary to think I am making a choice, about how we eat this week or who gets medical care," she said.

A partnership between Banner Health and several Valley school districts is alleviating those concerns for Dalley and families like hers. The partnership created in-school clinics.

"We are here to see kids who have no health insurance, and we are here to provide health care for them," Sheryl Peterson, a nurse practitioner with Banner, explained.

At two clinics based in Valley schools like Isaac Imes in Glendale and an education center in Mesa, children who are uninsured or underinsured can get free health care. The clinics see kids for a variety of reasons.

"Lots of sports physicals and, you know, the common sick visits -- colds, sore throats, ear infections," Peterson. "Asthma is a big one. Those are the top ones we see."

Dalley says even preventative visits are covered.

"For me, the things that have been critically important for my kids, one has been to track the developmental milestones," she said. "So someone is still tracking their growth, making sure everything is happening for them the way it should be."

The clinics are open to children up to the age of 18, and they don't have to go to that particular school or even live in that city.

Peterson says the in-school clinics can help parents who have no insurance or those whose insurance does not cover all of their needs. They can even help with prescription costs.

She says it is part of Banner's commitment to serve the entire community.

"We are here to keep kids healthy and keep kids in school," she said.

Dalley believes a healthier community is better for all of us.

"It is a huge community resource that we need to get the word out about so that parents don't have to feel like they have to make a hard choice," she said.

There are three clinic locations.

  • Isaac Imes Elementary School, 6625 N. 56th Ave., Glendale - (480) 412-634
  • Galveston Elementary School, 777 E. Galveston, Chandler - (480) 812-7900 (Chandler residents only)
  • Mesa Education Center, 855 W. Eighth Ave., Mesa - (480) 412-6344

Click here to learn more about Banner's School-Based Health Centers program and the Banner Children's Healthmobile.