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TMCNet:  Mansfield Schools Plan School-Based Health Clinic

[February 11, 2013]

Mansfield Schools Plan School-Based Health Clinic

Feb 11, 2013 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Mansfield Public Schools students, their parents, teachers and community members will have access to a full-time, school-based health clinic with the start of school this fall, Mansfield school officials announced last week.

The clinic will be housed at Mansfield Elementary School and will be the first of its kind in Arkansas in that it involves a corporate partnership with a large health-care provider, Mercy Clinic Fort Smith, said Tracey Sadoski, Mansfield coordinated school health director.

Grant Morris, Mercy Clinic regional director of operations, said: "Mercy is proud to have provided care for the people of Mansfield for many years. The prospect of partnering with the Mansfield School District to provide better access to health care for the students and employees of Mansfield School District is an exciting one. Mercy is always looking for new ways to make it easier for people to get health care, and this is one of many innovative ways to reach our patients." Mercy will provide medical health services, potentially, too, by incorporating Telehealth to allow clients to access specialists without having to leave the area, Sadoski said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technology to aid with long-distance clinical health care. Technologies used in Telehealth include videoconferencing, the Internet, streaming media and wireless communications.

Sadoski said the district learned in December that it had received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to create the school-based clinic. Mansfield is one of only two Arkansas school districts to ever receive the federal grant, she said.

The Mansfield School Board voted last spring to become an Arkansas Department of Education Coordinated School Health District to provide the best possible educational experience for Mansfield students.

The Coordinated School Health program focuses on eight components -- physical health, mental health, nutrition, physical education, health education, healthy school environment, parental involvement and staff wellness, Sadoski said.

The clinic will be located on the elementary campus in a to-be-renovated building on the corner of Walnut and Center streets. Sadoski said the corner location with its existing roads will make the clinic both easy to access and easy to secure. The grant money is funding the renovation, she said.

Renovation plans have been finalized with Architects Plus, and plans are to advertise for construction bids, select a general contractor in March and begin construction in April. The medical and mental health clinics are expected to open when the 2013-14 school year starts in August, Sadoski said. The dental and vision clinics are expected to open shortly afterward, she said.

Students will use a separate clinic entrance than will the community, Sadoski said. The school bus lane will be relocated to enable the separate, dedicated entrances. The student entrance will be secured at all times, and community clients will have no access to the school grounds, she said.

Superintendent Robert Ross said he has a vision for educating the "whole child." Children must not only be offered superior academic opportunities, but the district must also consider their physical, mental and social health, he said. The clinic will also meet a significant need in the community, he said.

Sadoski said students will receive priority treatment and will not be turned away regardless of their ability to pay. The clinic will accept an unlimited number of Medicare and Medicaid patients, she said.

Students and their parents will especially benefit because students will no longer have to check out of school to see a doctor, Sadoski said.

Parents will complete a basic information sheet for their children at the beginning of the year. If a child needs medical, dental, vision or counseling services, the child will see the school nurse who will consult with the child's parents then refer the child to the clinic as needed, Sadoski said. Students may also receive well-child visits, yearly vision exams and dental cleanings, she said.

___ (c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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