SHARECOMMENTMORE

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland High School is expanding its school-based health center in hopes that more students can access its services.

Right now there is a small clinic where students can receive primary care and teeth cleanings. The new space will have two doctor's offices, as well as two dentists' chairs, and a room for mental health and substance abuse counseling. Lori Gramlich, Portland's Family Health Program Manager, says she's particularly excited about the possibility that the center could have its own dentist in another year. Right now, the clinic does not provide x-rays or fillings.

City health officials say the expansion is necessary because so many students in Portland are either uninsured or underinsured. The clinic takes students regardless of their ability to pay.

Gramlich said, "If we have those services where they are 80 percent of the time during the day, and they can access those services during the day, they're more likely to use them. And if we make it normalized, that it's a normal thing, then there's no stigma attached."

In 2011, 44 percent of students enrolled in Portland School Based Heath Centers were uninsured. 42 percent had MaineCare. About half of Portland High School's students were enrolled in the health center.