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Cherry Health Center offers integrated care for students

Cherry Health Center at Cedar Springs Public Schools celebrated their grand re-opening this week. From left to right: Chris Shea, CEO of Cherry Health; Dorothy Weller, of the Weller Foundation; Denise Gates, of ChoiceOne Bank; Tasha Blackmon, Cherry Health COO; Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn; and Kristina Paliwoda, site manager at the Cedar Springs Cherry Health Center. Post photo by J. Reed.

Cherry Health Center at Cedar Springs Public Schools celebrated their grand re-opening this week. From left to right: Chris Shea, CEO of Cherry Health; Dorothy Weller, of the Weller Foundation; Denise Gates, of ChoiceOne Bank; Tasha Blackmon, Cherry Health COO; Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn; and Kristina Paliwoda, site manager at the Cedar Springs Cherry Health Center. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

If a student gets sick at Cedar Springs Public Schools, they don’t have to wait to be picked up by a parent and then wait for an appointment with the family doctor. Instead, with a parent’s permission, they can be seen right on campus the same day at the newly renovated Cherry Health Center.

The Cherry Health Center, located at Red Hawk Elementary, celebrated their grand reopening on Tuesday, October 18, with a ribbon cutting, speakers, tours and refreshments.

“Cherry Health first opened in 2015 with a limited amount of medical and behavioral health services in a temporarily constructed space at the school, while campaign funds were raised to build out a fully functional health center,” explained Tiffany Aldrich, Director of Communications for Cherry Health. “The ribbon cutting and open house was to share the fully constructed health center with the community, which now also includes dental services.”

Cherry Health CEO Chris Shea said their partnership is not just with Cedar Springs Schools, but with the community. “We are looking toward better health for all residents,” explained Shea. “Access to health care is important. More people now have coverage, but if they have no place to use it, it doesn’t do much good.”

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn said that Cedar Springs Schools serves a population of 48 percent low socio-economic students. “To have this is important. We now have dental, medical, and behavioral health, with DHS right next door.”

The school doesn’t pay any money toward having them on campus, they just offer the space. Instead, the expense is paid for through a grant from the State of Michigan, and donations, such as from ChoiceOne Bank and the Weller Foundation.

Services are provided regardless of ability to pay, but insurance may be billed when possible. Students must have parental consent on file to be treated.

“Any student ages 3-21 can be seen in the health center, regardless of whether or not they attend CSPS,” said Aldrich. “Therefore, if a student attends CSPS, a charter or private school, or is homeschooled, they can come to the health center.” Those younger than three must be a sibling of a student using the health center.

The health center offers on-site Medicaid enrollment assistance, well- child checks, immunizations, same day appointments for acute issues, referrals for more serious illness/injuries, hearing and vision screenings and more.

For many years Cherry Health has provided general dental services such as exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride and sealants in the Cedar Springs schools with their school-linked program, where students are treated at their school. However, students needing follow up treatment or emergency care can now be seen at the health center. Parents should have received a blue dental consent form for the school-linked program with school registration information. If they do not have a blue consent form, they can stop into the health center to pick one up.

The health center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment call (616) 696-3470.

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