SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) – Students at the Southside School District now only need a hall pass to visit a doctor.
That's because the school recently opened a health clinic on its campus.
The clinic provides basic medical care not just to Southside students and staff but also to the surrounding community. It opened full-time about three weeks ago, and administrators and faculty members like Paige Jeffery have already seen an impact.
Jeffery works at the district's pre-school as a teacher's aide.
"You're in charge of someone's little baby, someone's little miracle," she said, "so seeing the child hurt was incredibly scary."
One of her students fell last week and injured herself. Instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive, the staff simply called across the street to the new medical clinic on campus.
"The ladies were amazing," Jeffery said. "They helped us, and they were on the spot. They were calm. They were very professional, and having them – considering we have the youngest kids on campus – is definitely one of the better things."
An incident like this confirms that the district made the right decision opening the health clinic, at least for Superintendent Roger Rich.
"Good quality health care is what we want for all that's accessible quickly so that they can get in and out," Rich said. "It's going to make an impact, I think, on the learning [environment] in the end here at Southside School."
The district decided to partner with ARCare last school year to open the clinic.
"It's going to be a great partnership," Rich said. "It's been great for our school for sure, and I think it will for our community as well."
The school turned the building that housed its technology staff into the medical clinic, which now has three exam rooms and a laboratory.
"We have a nurse practitioner on site four days a week, and a medical doctor in conjunction with White River Medical Center [in Batesville] with us one day a week," Rich explained.
Students and staff members get priority whenever they come to the clinic for care during the school day, something the pre-school appreciates.
"It's definitely beneficial for the school as well as the community," Jeffery said.
The school plans to host an open house during the next few weeks so that word starts to spread that it is open to the public too.
After the open house, the clinic staff expects to treat between 30 and 40 patients per day. If the work load gets any larger than that, the superintendent fully expects the clinic to outgrow its current facility.
The clinic provides care for the insured through Medicare, Medicaid, ARKids and private insurance as well as the uninsured, whose payments for service will be based on a sliding scale.