Richfield High opens health center offering free care

Richfield High School opens a health center Thursday to offer free medical care at school.

The center will be open two days a week for anyone under 21 who lives in Richfield or attends district schools. It's funded by the Park Nicollet Foundation.

Director of student support services Christina Gonzalez said it will be especially helpful for the two-thirds of district students who live in poverty.

"When our parents are really concerned with providing a roof over their student's head and a meal, it at times is challenging to get them in for their well-child appointments or for an earache," Gonzalez said.

Park Nicollet Foundation program officer Libby Lincoln said it could help boost student attendance.

"When you have a health center based right at the school, if they have a minor illness, rather than staying home they can go right down to the health center and get treatment immediately and get right back to class," Lincoln said.

The Richfield clinic is one of four the Park Nicollet Foundation has funded in the metro area. The state has also funded four so-called "community schools" this year that will include services like mental health, counseling and medical care.