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Health Center Prepares For May 5 Opening
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Starting next week, Riverbank residents will have accessible health care in the heart of the community when a new health center based on the Riverbank High School campus but open to all the community holds its ribbon cutting at the high school.

The public event is scheduled for Thursday, May 5 at 3:30 p.m. at the Golden Valley Health Center located on the Riverbank High School campus.

Students will be able to visit the center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day and enjoy food, music, opportunities to win prizes such as an Ipod and giveaway items for all students.

This project is an effort that has been spearheaded by students from the youth-led group called Step by Step. The group began researching the needs of the community in the fall of 2006 and since then has worked persistently to establish a community health center on the school campus. The collaboration between Step by Step and the Riverbank Unified School District led to a partnership that was established with Golden Valley Health Centers as the health provider that would be part of the community.

"The partnership between Riverbank Unified School District and Golden Valley Health Centers is the result of a community movement driven by the youth at Riverbank High School. The health center, a simple yet powerful concept, was envisioned by high school students in 2007," said Ken Geisick, RUSD Superintendent, who will speak at the health center opening. "The youth and community will now enjoy the power of a health center, but the youth and adults discovered that the long journey to a grand opening was complex and required a spirit of relentlessness."

A total of approximately 75 high school students have participated in the establishment of the health center. Their involvement has helped to create numerous partnerships including: Golden Valley Health Centers, California School Health Centers Association and the California Center for Civic Participation. Youth have advocated at the local, state and national level to increase supports available to fund school based health centers.

"The youth leaders from Riverbank High School Step by Step have shown the school health world what youth-driven really means. Their commitment to their school-based health center has been a prime example for other start-up projects nationwide, especially as they continue to work towards a sustainable, teen-friendly and quality school health program. I am so fortunate to have collaborated with such progressive and impassioned young people," commented Kathleen Gutierrez, California School Health Centers Association.

The school based community health center will offer comprehensive health services and will serve students and the community at large.

Golden Valley Health Centers is not new to the concept of a school-based health center. It currently has three sites located on school grounds in Stanislaus County.

"Now we look forward to being part of the Riverbank community and providing quality health care services to the students and their families," said Christine Noguera, GVHC Deputy CEO.

Golden Valley Health Centers is a private, non-profit federally qualified health center system that has served California's Central Valley for more than 38 years.

Through its community health centers, it provides comprehensive primary medical, dental and behavioral health as well as health education and eligibility screening to an ethnically diverse population, including migrant and seasonal farm workers, Southeast Asian refuges and the homeless population of Merced and Stanislaus counties.

Golden Valley has developed a system of 25 clinical sites and eight dental sites, include two freestanding women's health centers, three school-based centers, a homeless healthcare program and two mobile medical clinics called MOMobile.

One of the mobile medical clinics has been visiting the RHS campus to serve the local community and students for several years and will now be replaced by the new clinic building.

All of Golden Valley's revenue comes from patient dollars and charitable sources, as well as federal and state government grants. No patient is turned away because of inability to pay.