SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) – The Southside School District has found a remedy to cut down the amount of sick time taken by its students and staff.
Last week, the Southside School Board approved plans to open a health clinic on campus, which members say will benefit more than just the school.
"We're just excited about what it's going to do for our school and for our community," said Superintendent Roger Rich, "and I think it will change the landscape of how we do business here."
Rich says the school decided to partner with ARCare to convert a building currently housing the school's technology staff into a health clinic serving the whole community.
"Sometimes, unfortunately, there's some that are not able to get the health care that they need, and now we'll be able to provide that on campus," Rich explained.
"We have a lot of lost time in the classroom by teachers and by kids going into facilities that will take a longer time to be seen, and we think this will result in less time out of class for our staff and for our students."
Rich says the school hopes to have the clinic open by August, just in time for school to start. ARCare will staff the clinic four days a week with a nurse practitioner and one day a week with a medical doctor. Services will not be free, but a sliding payment scale should help the uninsured, according to the superintendent.
Rich says the clinic will also perform physical exams for student athletes and provide a convenient location to conduct drug testing.
"We have several children that the closest thing to going to a doctor is seeing one of the school nurses," said Krystal Brannon, a school nurse at Southside.
She, however, says students will now be able to seek more advanced medical care close to their classrooms.
"I think it's a move in the right direction for us to have the access for our community here in Southside," Brannon added.
Southside may have modeled its clinic after two other schools in the state, but Roger Rich sees the concept as the way of the future – perhaps putting his school ahead of its time.
"The real winners will be our kids and our patrons."
The district has also purchased about three acres of land near its elementary school. The superintendent says he hopes to build a more visible, permanent health clinic there in the next few years.