Vashon Island School District now hosts one of a dozen Neighborcare School-Based Health Centers. If you live anywhere near Seattle, this article may relate to you and your child.

On August 29th, a front-page article in The Beachcomber reminded our community that there is now a health clinic operating at our island schools. This article made it clear that you, as a parent, are encouraged to promptly sign and return legal consent forms allowing your child to be treated at this brand new facility.

If you feel strange about the idea of your child seeing a brand new doctor alone, while at school, you are not alone. If you believe a parent’s presence leads to better informed medical decisions, treatment choices and health care outcomes, you’re in very good company. And, if you want to know more than practically nothing, before you sign multiple consent forms? Well, in that case, the representatives of this new clinic should be strongly in your corner.

Instead, the “urgency” message that’s being delivered by Neighborcare’s Alyssa Pyke, the VISD and Sarah Day, is inappropriate, in that is resembles pressure. Signing your family’s legal protections away, before you fully understand the ramifications of your choice, is not only unnecessary – it’s a form of “uninformed” consent.

Have you ever been in an ambulance or headed to the ER with a life-threatening emergency? Didn’t have time to read the entire release form? I understand. I was in that very situation this past April. Like most people, I scanned the document, asked a couple questions, and then reasonably signed it and crossed my fingers, trusting that I was in the “caring and capable” hands of people committed to “doing their best.”

Starting the school year, on the other hand, is not the same as being rushed to the ER in an ambulance. Unless you’ve struggled to gain medical care for your child (and this new clinic can help you overcome a critical health burden)…you have time to consider your actions. Plenty of time, in fact!

So, why are Alyssa Pyke and Sarah Day asking VISD parents to hurry the decision? Consider the following statement, by Sarah Day: “It is important that we get the paperwork signed,” she said. “We are lucky to have the clinic. Let’s make it successful.”

Whoa! Since when did it become your responsibility, as a parent, to make this clinic successful? I thought your job was to prepare your child for school, ensure a supportive home environment, and make careful, thought out decisions? The success or failure of this clinic should never be tied to medical consent decisions by parents. In fact, they must remain completely separate.

The truth is, you can put this decision on the back burner and wait a few days, a couple weeks, maybe even a month or two. Go ahead and focus on getting your children settled into school and your family schedule evened out. Eventually, things will slow down again and you can devote time to a family discussion of this new school clinic. Maybe Timmy and Sarah don’t want to see the doctor alone? Perhaps your family medical background is complex enough that your presence is absolutely necessary? Or, maybe it’s perfect for you. Maybe you love it!

Whatever the final decision is, make sure that no person or organization is pushing you in one direction or the other. It is both your right, and your responsibility, to know what you are doing, when you sign a legal consent form on behalf of your child.

Long story short: When it comes to legal contracts, you deserve to sign on the dotted line with confidence.