Oakwood planning teen health center at Tomlinson

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Tomlinson Middle School soon could be the home of an Oakwood Teen Health Center.

At the Westwood Board of Education meeting Oct. 17, the board made a motion to give Supt. Sue Carnell and school district attorney Anthony Guerriero the authority to review and sign a contract between the district and Oakwood when the hospital finalized the language of the contract, which Carnell said they expect soon.

“They are committed and we are committed, so it looks like Westwood will be the new home of the Oakwood-Westwood Teen Health Center,” Carnell said. “We are very excited. It’s a great opportunity for our families, our adolescents and the community at large. This is a great partnership.”

The center would be in a modular at Tomlinson, and if contracts are agreed upon and signed soon, renovation work can begin and it could be open before January.

Oakwood Corporate Director of Community Outreach Betty Priskorn said bids have been sent out to price the renovations, but because the rooms to be used already have running water, it will take less money and time to modify the space into medical exam rooms.

Carnell said it was important to get the contract approved as quickly as possible so renovation work can be begin soon. She said she was asking for the approval of the board to sign the contract because the next board meeting isn’t until Nov. 21.

“The longer we push this back, the longer it will be before any work could be started at Tomlinson,” Carnell said.

Westwood Director of Operations David Stull said the contract for the renovations would be cost-neutral, with Oakwood paying for any renovations done inside the building.

“We will own the building and will responsible for maintaining the exterior of the building,” Stull said. “They are also covering all of the custodial and operational costs associated with the building and will pay for any heat, light, power and water bills for the building.”

Stull said he doesn’t believe that the planned renovations will have a major impact on the building that could harm its use in future years if the health center is taken out.

There are two Oakwood Teen Health Centers in Wayne County, in Taylor and Westland. The centers work to positively impact the health of adolescents and young adults in partnership with them and their families, schools and communities by offering prevention and health education programs, general medical programs and counseling services.

There was a third center inside Inkster High School, but the center was closed after the district was dissolved in July.

Priskorn said that almost immediately after the closing of the Inkster center, talks were opened between Oakwood and Westwood. She said one of her biggest concerns was keeping a new center close to Inkster so that that community could still have access to the health care.

“One of the big things that we were very concerned about was making sure that those youth in Inkster were not forgotten and Sue (Carnell) has been very warm and welcoming for all the students to be able to access services at Tomlinson,” Priskorn said. “There were many youth who were familiar with the services that were provided there and who still have access to health care close to their homes.”

Priskorn said Oakwood is excited at the possibility of opening the new center soon.

“This is a win for the students and their families,” Priskorn said. “These teen centers are designed so that students can be very comfortable in them. There are many services that we can offer the youth and their families coming in.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)