FALL RIVER (WBSM) — The first school-based health center on the SouthCoast will open next month at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River.

The non-profit HealthFirst Family Care Center, Inc. will be the healthcare provider operating the center, which is slated to open on Monday, March 4. It will offer primary care services to students provided by medical doctors and family nurse practitioners.

All services will be provided free of charge for the students at Diman.

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“Many adolescent children in the Greater Fall River area do not have access to a primary care provider for chronic and acute medical issues,” said HealthFirst Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric Vaught. “Therefore, I am glad to see this partnership with Diman move forward as a first step towards HealthFirst meeting this specific need in our community.”

The 1,400 students enrolled at Diman Voke would have access to not only primary care medical services, but also “integrated mental health and counseling services, as well as nutrition therapy, chronic disease care management, preventive health screenings, and testing and vaccination services,” according to a release from HealthFirst, which had been looking to open a school-based health center on the SouthCoast since 2021.

The health center will remain open five days a week throughout the school year.

“Healthcare is a human right. This historic partnership with HealthFirst, the first of its kind in the area, will provide equitable healthcare access for our students,” said Andrew Rebello, Principal and Assistant Superintendent at Diman.

“Access to healthcare, large co-pays, and appointment availability burden families and skyrocketed student absenteeism," he said. "Pioneering this initiative proves what this community has come to expect from Diman – a school that cares deeply about every aspect of a student's growth and life.”

Back in November 2023, Diman broke ground on the construction of a new school.

Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media
Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media

While the Diman health care center may be the first on the SouthCoast, New Bedford is looking to open a similar center at New Bedford High that would serve all New Bedford students.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said back in 2022 that the New Bedford High health care center would be built using “two sets of federal funds” and that it is “something that’s not going to cost us anything to establish.”

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