Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics celebrates 15 years of service with a fundraiser

Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics holds a fundraiser in honor of their 15-year anniversary that will raise money to provide healthcare to underserved or uninsured children.


Grace Kreber

The Iowa City Community School District sign in Iowa City is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Sofia Mamakos, News Reporter

For 15 years, the Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics has provided free health services for Iowa City Community School District children. Now, the clinic is holding a fundraiser to mark its progression since opening in 2007.

The organization’s goal for its 15-year anniversary is to raise $250,000 by March 1, 2023.

HSBC provides free primary care services to underserved and uninsured children in Johnson and Washington Counties. According to its website, the clinic strives to help these students receive sufficient healthcare.

Infographic by Ryan Hansen / The Daily Iowan

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of uninsured people younger than 19 in Johnson County has dropped between 2006 and 2020. In 2020, there were 819 people younger than the age of 19 who were uninsured in the county.

Dr. Marguerite Oetting, medical director of the Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics, said she has been a part of the organization since its founding.

“The Iowa City School Board was finding groups of children that weren’t thriving, and they wanted to figure out why,” Oetting said. “So, they did a community needs assessment, and one of the things they came up with was that there was a group of children that didn’t have access to health care.”

These routine health problems caused children to fall behind or miss school, which was another reason that led Oetting, and two of her colleagues, to start the clinics. Oetting said she is proud of how far the clinics have come since their beginning.

“We now have three primary care providers, and we have clinics three or four days a week and three or four half days a week,” she said.

The clinics offers basic services similar to what a regular pediatrician would provide.

“We do annual exams, vaccines, vision screening, we put fluoride on teeth,” Oetting said. “If kids need medications, we help them get those medications.”

The clinics are also able to refer students to mental health providers and specialists outside of the clinic.

“We can get X-rays, we can get lab work done. We can refer to specialists if we need to do pretty much everything that a regular, more traditional pediatric office could do,” she said.

Kelly Alvarado, a recent graduate of Iowa City West High School, said she greatly benefited from the health services of the Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics.

“I was in middle school when they sent me to the clinics,” Alvarado said. “They helped me to [participate in] sports because I could get my physicals there and they also helped me with my acne and dental care.”

Anne Vandenberg, a member of the Healthy Kids School-Based Clinics Advisory Board, said she hopes the board will reach its fundraising goal to meet the needs of all students in the Iowa City Community School District.

“We’re really only meeting about half the need in terms of the number of uninsured children in our city school district,” said Vandenberg. “We would really like to be able to expand our services so that we can serve those kids and sustain what we have in terms of keeping services going forward.”

The clinics have served 4,500 patients over the last 15 years since their founding. They provided over 8,700 visits for care during that time period, not including mental health visits.

Additionally, during the clinic’s first year they served 209 patients and had 312 visits. Last school year, they were able to serve 391 patients and had almost 900 visits.

Vandenberg said she hopes this fundraiser will help the clinics cover more ground. As a parent of students in the Iowa City Community School District, she said she can’t imagine what it would be like to struggle with the disadvantage of insufficient health care as a child.

“I had two daughters who graduated from West High School, and the thought that there were kids sitting next to them in class who didn’t have health care, it seemed impossible in terms of expecting them to compete, you know, on an even basis,” Vandenberg said.

Vandenburg said the Healthy Kids School-Based Health Clinics wants to alleviate healthcare barriers to ensure that all children can be successful academically and in terms of quality of life. She said HSBC would not be possible without the community support of their sponsors: United Way, University of Iowa Health Care, and the Iowa City Community School District.

For Otteing, the hope is the Johnson County community to continue to help the clinic program grow.

“We’re grateful for the support that the community has given us over the years, ” Oetting said. “We’re hopeful that they’ll step up and help us do more for kids.”