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Petaluma Health Center Awarded $500,000 For New School-Based Health Centers

The agency’s expanded programs will provide health care to students, many of whom are unprotected.

Petaluma high school students just got a bit healthier.

The Petaluma Health Center will be opening two new health centers at Petaluma high schools in 2013 thanks to receiving $500,000 in federal funding as part of program to pay for 31 school-based health centers in California.

Holly Butler, community relations director for Petaluma Health Center, said that the agency won out through a competitive grant process. Only one other agency in the North Bay region, Santa Rosa Health Center, received funding through this program.

“We have demonstrated our ability to effectively use grant funds,” Butler said.

An example of that was a $9 million grant that allowed the agency to move last year into its current 53,000-square-foot facility on North McDowell—its prior office space was just 10,000 square feet.

“That was huge a boon for us—and the entire area,” Butler said.

The agency’s growth makes it the second biggest primary health care provider in southern Sonoma County with 18,000 patients; Kaiser Permanente has 35,000 and is the area’s largest provider.

The new grant funds will be directed toward local high school students.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration announced the funding last week as part of $14.3 million awarded in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act.

Petaluma Health Center will team up with Petaluma City Schools to open health centers on the campuses of Casa Grande High School and San Antonio High School in 2013.

School-based health centers provide the same primary health care available in doctors’ offices, and because of their location on a school campus, they’re able to expand preventive services such as health education, nutrition and physical activity, and violence and bullying prevention.

In Sonoma County, Santa Rosa Health Centers also received federal funding for new school-based health centers.

“Petaluma Health Center is grateful and proud to accept the HRSA grant to open Petaluma’s first ever school based health centers on the campuses of Casa Grande and San Antonio high schools, bringing primary health care and related services to underserved students and families,” said Kathie Powell, the agency’s CEO.

“We acknowledge our partners in this effort, including the California School Health Centers Association that effectively assisted us with SBHC planning and proposal development.”

Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Steve Bolman said in a prepared statement that the partnership will make a significant impact on students’ lives. “It is great to hear that the HRSA School Based Health Center grant that will provide Petaluma Health center facilities on the Casa Grande and San Antonio High School campuses has been funded. These facilities will provide a needed service to our students and community.”

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