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Health Center Has Grand Opening
Both students and the public were able to tour the facilities of a Golden Valley Health Center located on the Riverbank High School campus at a grand opening on Thursday, May 5.

The center will open for business within a few weeks, said a Golden Valley official. In the meantime the health organization's mobile medical clinic will continue to visit the school's parking lot as it has done for the last two years.

"This partnership between the Riverbank Unified School District and Golden Valley Health Centers will bring essential health care to students and the community," Golden Valley's Chief Executive Officer Mike Sullivan told the crowd. "We offer primary care and we believe preventive medicine is the best treatment."

Housed in a permanent building set on the east side of the campus, the health center is easily accessible both to students and to the public from the football stadium's parking lot.

Alejandra Leal and Oscar Rosales, members of the Step-by-Step Students Club which has worked since 2005 to bring this project to fruition, were given the honor of issuing the welcome and were followed by Manuel Castano and Maria Garnica who are 2009 and 2007 alumni of Step-by-Step.

"Partnership has been so important in setting this up," said Superintendent of Schools Ken Geisick. "We were not chasing a pot of money. This is the result of working with each other for five years. So the services won't disappear when the grant disappears."

Wielding some large silver scissors, Riverbank Chamber of Commerce Director Jerry Van Houten gathered with Step-by-Step members and officials for a formal cutting of a red ribbon.

Acknowledging the unusual heat of the day, Mayor Virginia Madueno kept her speech short.

"You're the leaders," she said of the Step-by-Step students. "Without your enthusiasm and passion, this would not have been possible. And I congratulate the school district on having the vision and determination to see things through. We have needed health care in this community for so long."

Kristen Anderson of the California School Health Centers Association also addressed the crowd.

Initially Golden Valley will staff the center with Family Nurse Practitioner Lorraine Romero (who happens to live in Riverbank) helped by a medical assistant and a receptionist. More staff including a family practice doctor and a social worker and counselor will be added as business develops.

The health care organization currently operates 14 medical and four dental clinics in Stanislaus County. Some are located on elementary and middle school campuses. But this is the first set on a high school campus.

Student and members of the public touring the facilities found a comfortable waiting room, reception counter similar to a hospital nurses' station and several examination rooms. One room was set up with information centering on diabetic and asthma health care, another on teen pregnancy prevention and women's health and a third on behavioral health covering anxiety, depression and emotional care.

There was one room illustrating Golden Valley's dental services. The Riverbank clinic will not offer dental services but will provide teeth enamel coating services for children just starting school and can make dental referrals to another clinic such as the two in Modesto.

While Golden Valley limits its clinic hours mainly to weekdays, it does provide 24-hour telephone access to doctors on call who will advise and refer to whatever care facility they decide is necessary, said Deputy CEO Christine Noguera.