MARQUETTE - The Gwinn Teen Clinic inside Gwinn High School officially opened its doors Wednesday night, holding an open house for the public to come to see the amazing transformation from a two-room space without running water to a fully-functioning clinic complete with two exam rooms, a bathroom, waiting area, therapy room and lab and office space.
"This program provides excellent support for our students," said Gwinn interim superintendent Stephen Piereson. "And healthy students are good students."
The renovations and expansion were made possible by a $500,000 grant from the School-Based Health Center Capital Program, a competitive initiative authored by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.
Jill Magel, a physician assistant who works at the Gwinn Teen Health Clinic, shows medical supplies kept under lock and key in the new clinic. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
The program provides school-based health centers with resources for construction, renovation and equipment needs to improve children's access to basic health services.
Corrine Brownell, Marquette County Health Department's clinic director and the person who successfully wrote the $500,000 grant, said the expanded Gwinn clinic will provide a better place to dispense medical care.
"It's going to provide a lot more privacy and confidentiality," Brownell said. "We were not able to be fully staffed in that little area we were in. We've been able to now bring in the mental health provider, we're able to have more health educators on board and the medical facility is a lot more user friendly."
The expansion added 985 square feet to the 425 square feet available before construction began.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Brownell thanked everyone involved in bringing the expanded clinic to fruition, and accredited the Affordable Care Act with making the funding possible.
The difference between the old and the new is stark. Gone is the blue-carpeting on the walls and the cramped waiting area that also held what little office space was available for the clinic's receptionist.
In its place are a large waiting and reception area, private office space for the clinic's staff, space to house vaccinations and other medical supplies, two brand new labs which allow the stuff to run a number of tests and a working bathroom. Prior to the construction, students had to use a bathroom down the hall from the clinic.
Students were able to use the new space as of Nov. 1, when crews transitioned from new construction to renovation of the existing clinic.
The clinic was fully open to students Dec. 15.
Gwinn students age 10 to 21 are able to be treated in the clinic, as are siblings of those students.
Maggie Smith, a sophomore at Gwinn High School, said the clinic adds a convenience in health care to Gwinn students, since students would likely have to travel to Marquette for medical services were the clinic not available.
"I would choose to go to this clinic over any hospital," Smith said.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.