Federal grant funding GHS health clinic expansion

MARQUETTE – Construction on the Gwinn School-Based Health Center inside Gwinn High School will continue through the start of school next week, with tentative plans to have the new facility open by Dec. 1.

“It will not be done for next Tuesday with the start of school, but the health center is still operating in its established space where it has been,” Gwinn Area Community Schools Interim Superintendent Stephen Piereson said. “When the addition gets finished, then the health center personnel can move over into that area and then the renovations of the existing health center can be completed.”

The construction of an addition to the facility, and the renovation of the current space, was made possible by a $500,000 grant from the School-Based Health Center Capital Program, a competitive initiative sponsored by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-East Lansing.

The program provides school-based health centers with resources for construction, renovation and equipment needs to improve children’s access to basic health services.

In Michigan, there are more than 100 school-based and school-linked health centers serving more than 200,000 students, according to Stabenow’s office.

Corrine Brownell, Marquette County Health Department clinic director and the person who successfully wrote the $500,000 grant application, said the expanded Gwinn clinic will provide a better place to dispense medical care.

The addition of 985 square feet to the current 425 square feet will allow the clinic to have two exam rooms, rather than only one, and will provide a “confidential setting” for students, Brownell said.

The clinic will include a restroom – currently students must use the restroom down the hall and around a corner – as well as office space for medical staff, a social worker and the clinic coordinator.

The renovations will also add running water to the clinic.

“It will just make for a better flow and a more comfortable and private atmosphere for the students,” Brownell said.

Brownell and Piereson said construction on the new facility is expected to be complete by Oct. 1, at which time students can begin using the new space while renovations on the old space take place.

All work is expected to be finished by Dec. 1, when the entire clinic will open to students.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.