New School-Based Health Clinic Serves Cedar Springs Students

Cedar Springs has long been an area under-served for students’ medical and dental needs. No more. The Cedar Springs School Health Center opened this spring in Red Hawk Elementary School. Affiliated with Cherry Health, the clinic offers an array of medical and mental-health services for students from ages 5 to 21, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

“Our goal is to keep kids healthy and in school, and help Mom and Dad in the process,” said Kristina Paliwoda, the clinic’s site manager and a veteran nurse.

Funded by a $195,000 start-up grant from the state Department of Human Services, the clinic’s staff includes a medical provider, a social worker and a community health worker. They provide everything from sports physicals and well-child checkups to prescriptions, hearing and vision screening, diagnostic testing and crisis counseling. By late this year a dental clinic is also planned.

Parents’ consent is required for students under 18. Insurance will be billed when possible but treatment is still provided for students without it. Community health worker Shasta Gross is helping families enroll in Medicaid or other policies. “A lot of people are overwhelmed by the process of signing up for insurance,” Gross said. “That’s one of the things I can help walk them through.”

Help for Healthier Students
The Cedar Springs School Health Center offers services to students ages 5 to 21. Services include:

  • Well-child checkups, physicals and immunizations
  • Treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, and referrals for more serious problems
  • Help with chronic health problems and prescriptions for medications
  • Hearing and vision screening
  • Lab work and diagnostic testing for conditions such as diabetes, anemia and pregnancy
  • Counseling and crisis intervention
  • Medicaid enrollment

The clinic is open this summer, M-F from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make an appointment call 696-3470

While Cedar Springs students are the primary target group, their younger siblings also are eligible, as are students from charter and private schools.

Common student problems such as asthma, diabetes and obesity will be addressed along with preventive health, said Paliwoda, noting it is the first school-based health clinic outside of Grand Rapids.

“I look forward to serving not only their medical needs but their educational needs,” Paliwoda added. “Healthier kids learn better.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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