The School Based Clinic is an incredible resource for students


Current School Based Clinic Staff, from left to right: Laura Green (medical assistant), Michelle Erdman (health educator), Ashley Osio (mental health therapist), Laura Carpenter (mental health therapist).

Elliott Austin, Staff Writer

The South High School Based Clinic is one of the most important and necessary resources provided to students at school. Services available throughout the school day include: sports physicals, health check ups, vaccinations, therapy, reproductive health information and birth control, STI testing, and much more. Services are completely free and insurances are charged when possible. The idea is to create a completely judgment free space where students feel comfortable to talk about whatever they need to. Consent forms are required for all students under 18, which are handed out at the beginning of the year, but everything students talk to the Clinic about is completely confidential, so there’s no reason to worry about their parents being contacted. This is especially important for queer students, or students who are worried about pregnancy.

One of the most important things the School Based Clinics provide students is the Teen Health Empowerment Council. The Council is a group of students from every MPS school that has a clinic, that meet bi-weekly to have discussions about health and give suggestions to the leadership about how to improve the clinics. “I personally believe that if there is any organization that serves youth, there should be a youth leadership council informing the way that they do the work with [the youth],” Michelle Erdman, South High Clinic’s health educator, said on the importance of the Teen Health Empowerment Council. “It’s so easy to be an adult working with young people and be out of touch.” She also said that the best youth serving organizations have a teen council, and highlighted the Annex Teen Clinic and Northpoint Health and Wellness as good examples of this. 

Meetings had been held exclusively online for the last two years due to Covid, but recently meetings have been in person. They plan on moving back to being fully in person next school year. Most of the meetings are completely facilitated, organized, and run by students. They also have a question box for members to ask questions anonymously and prompt discussions in their meetings. Discussion topics have included: what healthy relationships look like, body image, and self esteem. With virtual meetings, it’s been a lot harder for the Council to inform the clinics on things they normally would, but generally that is one of the most important things the council does. 

On what the clinic as a whole aims towards, Michelle said that, “We want the clinic to be absolutely accessible to every single student, and we want it to be as inclusive a space as possible.” Some of the ways they make this happen are through interpretive services, and staff who are fluent in other languages (including Somali and Spanish), as well as taking the necessary steps to make the clinic nonjudgmental at all times. They do patient satisfaction surveys twice a year and almost always come away with positive feedback. Michelle also said that the clinic serves a much higher porportion of queer students in the clinic than there are in the school. 

“If you are under 18 and you want sexual health or reproductive health services here in the clinic, or an any clinic in Minnesota, you, by law, have a right to confidential…services,” Michelle said. The clinic has a responsibility to never tell parents the reason for your visit. They don’t even require insurance or a copayment if you aren’t able to provide it. “Students who utilize the clinic…their privacy is fully protected. This is a very safe and trustworthy place for students to get condoms, STI testing, pregnancy tests.” A student’s  privacy is so important that if someone in the clinic were to tell a parent, they could lose all funding and the clinic could be shut down. 

The Clinic has also adapted in response to Covid, providing Covid tests for free as long as students have the consent form signed by a parent. Michelle adds that even though masks are no longer required in schools, the clinic would still like students to wear one while using their services. When Covid first hit, the clinic was an amazing resource that kept running even when the school was closed. They did telehealth appointments and reached out to students to check in. The clinic still allowed them to come to the clinic to get various shots they needed, and members of the clinic even drove to their houses to drop off medications that they needed. As of now, the Clinic is back up to the full services they had before the start of Covid.

The South High School Based Clinic is easily one of the most important resources we have at this school and one that we should be incredibly thankful to have at all. The staff members of the clinic do invaluable work. You can find more information about the Clinic on the South website here: