Jonathan Almaraz, 12, had a big smile recently after he left the nurse's office at Hannah Penn Middle School in York.

He'd just had his teeth cleaned. The school's nurse's office doubles as a dental and medical office operated by Family First Health, York Hospital and York city. It's the only school-based health center in York County.

"I think it's great because you don't have to miss school," said Rafael Cordero, a 15-year-old student at Hannah Penn.

Having a medical office in the school cuts back on the amount of time needed to be out of the classroom, said Jolynn Achaj, school-based health center coordinator for Family First Health.

Students who have medical emergencies aren't far from a doctor, which cuts back on expenses.

Medical assistant Danielle Kubicki checks Jonathan Almaraz’s temperature Monday.
Medical assistant Danielle Kubicki checks Jonathan Almaraz's temperature Monday. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
Recently, a student who was having an asthma attack was able to be treated by a doctor.

"She had her treatment and was able to go right back to class," said Cindy Rose, the school nurse.

The center, which opened about 12 years ago, isn't just for students. More than 4,000 people used the medical center last year to see the doctor; about 430 were students. About 2,000 people came for dental services, including 535 students.

Most medical insurance plans are accepted at the health center, Achaj said. Those who are not insured pay for services based on their income, she said.

Many of the students who come in for dental work have not had much instruction on proper oral hygiene, leading to a higher number of children with cavities.

"We are actually making a difference in these kids' lives," said dentist LaJuan Mountain, who has worked at the center since 2005.

It also gives students such as Evelyn Chacon, 14, and Daizgiauna Cortez, 12, the chance to volunteer as student aides.

The girls spend one day on a rotation handing out appointment reminder slips to other children. Both said they are considering careers in the medical field.

"I think this is a good thing for students to be able to do," Daizgiauna said, "and it's fun."

ndobo@ydr.com; 771-2032

AT A GLANCE

The Family First Health center at Hannah Penn Middle School served more than 4,000 in the community last year.

Medical and dental services are available for students and the community. Services are offered year-round. For more information, call 843-5174.