Though initially opened in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic soon closed the Woolley Wellness Clinic until the following school year. The clinic – which features a waiting and reception area, a restroom, and two exam rooms – re-opened on September 2, 2021, in four-hour increments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It serves students of both Sedro-Woolley and State Street high schools, but no students who are younger.
This year, the clinic officially re-opens on September 13, with specialty hours August 17 through 19 for sports physicals. During the academic year, the clinic will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Additional hours may be added if demand requires it.
Youth Health Care in Sedro-Woolley
Pamela Hassler, a PeaceHealth physician assistant in Skagit County, is one of two full-time staff operating the clinic this year.
Despite overwhelmingly positive responses from both the school district and families who’ve made use of the clinic, Hassler says not all students and parents are aware it exists. This year, they hope to change that.
In addition to being a place for the treatment of commonplace student health issues, including sicknesses, sprained ankles, hearing issues or minor burns, Hassler hopes the clinic can also encourage students to take ownership of their health.
“I want students to feel like it’s a place of safety and health information,” she says of the clinic. “When they’re there, I want their time to be educational, informative, and maybe even inspiring to just be a healthier person.”
In addition to extensive medical experience, Hassler has 7 children and 18 grandchildren. “I have grandkids this age, and I remember how I was at that age,” she says. “I really needed a lot more guidance than I had at that age, and I’m very honored to have the opportunity to do this.” She brings a reassuring and non-judgmental attitude to the clinic and the help it provides.
Ruth Richardson, the school district’s public information officer, has two children who attend Sedro-Woolley High. She says it’s been fantastic for her kids to access the clinic, especially when their primary care provider might not be available to see them for three or four more days.
Here, a student can walk in and immediately receive treatment, even having prescriptions sent to their pharmacy afterward.
“The district is so grateful to have this sort of partnership with PeaceHealth,” Richardson says. “Having students be able to access healthcare services on-site, without having to miss much or any of class, is fantastic.”
Hassler says students should still see their primary care provider when possible, but some high schoolers still may not have one. “I know when I was high school age, I didn’t even understand what primary or preventative care was,” she says.
Although parents will no longer have to pick up their children for day-interrupting trips to a doctor or clinic outside the school grounds, Hassler says some parents have still come to the school anyway, just to check out the clinic and see how their child is doing.
Things to Know About the Sedro-Woolley Student Wellness Clinic
As parental consent is required for students to use the clinic in all but a few instances, paperwork packets will be made available for parents to sign.
In addition to emergency medical attention, outpatient mental health services don’t require parental permission beginning at age 13. Testing and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases can be granted beginning at age 14, and reproductive health services are legally available to all high school-age students.
Hassler says the clinic is required to check if a student has insurance, but if they don’t, PeaceHealth can help cover costs through its financial assistance program.
Regarding mental health, Hassler says the school’s counselors have done a good job communicating with her, allowing them to send a student her direction if they deem mental health treatment needs to extend beyond talk therapy. Just the same, Hassler can recommend students speak with a counselor.
In addition to all these services, the clinic also has vaccine refrigeration available, and will be able to provide common vaccines, including those for the flu, tetanus, meningitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
COVID-19 testing and vaccinations will not be available at the school clinic, but are available at the local walk-in clinic and family medicine clinics, the latter of which has locations in Sedro-Woolley and Burlington.
Overall, Hassler is excited for another school year and the help she’ll be able to provide high schoolers. Although nobody really ever wants to wind up at the school health clinic, the important thing to remember is that if a student needs it, it’s there for them.
“Feel free to come by,” Hassler says. “We love giving people a tour and answering questions, and since we’re not busy at this time, it will be great. Parents can come by anytime during those hours that we’re open – and students as well. I want them to feel like they can pop in and check it out.”