A renovated and expanded health center at Portland High School that provides comprehensive primary care for about half of the school’s 874 students will offer multiple exam and dental care rooms.

The renovated health center will be unveiled at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Equal access to comprehensive health care for children and teens regardless of their ability to pay significantly improves their quality of life as individuals and their ability to perform academically,” said Mayor Michael Brennan in a prepared statement. “These improvements to our Portland High School clinic are a worthwhile and much needed investment in our next generation.”

The center, which first opened in 1995, is one of five school-based health centers operated by the city’s Public Health Division. The others are at Deering and Casco Bay high schools, King Middle School and East End Community School. Most of the funding comes from the Fund for a Healthy Maine, created by the Legislature in 1999 to receive Maine’s annual tobacco settlement payments.

The health centers operate in addition to the nurses’ offices at those schools.

Portland High School’s health center, renamed for longtime school nurse Amanda Rowe, who died in July, has been expanded from 500 to 1,500 square feet.

The new space has two exam rooms, two dental care rooms, a space for mental health services, and upgraded medical equipment and storage.

The center offers preventive health care, mental health and substance abuse services, reproductive health care and oral health care.

For students with health insurance, the center operates like any medical office. Students without health insurance get free medical and dental services, and workers will help them determine if they are eligible for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

During the last school year, officials said, 44 percent of students who used the student health centers were uninsured, and 42 percent were insured by MaineCare.

The renovation at Portland High School was financed with a $225,000 federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. A total of $200 million was disbursed to hundreds of school-based health care programs nationwide. An earlier grant financed the renovation of the health center at King Middle School and paid for mobile medical equipment used at all of the school health centers. 

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]