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Federal grants to help pay for medical clinics at 4 area schools

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, at 2:29 p.m.

Grants totaling $2 million have been awarded to four local organizations to build school-based health clinics in Wichita and Derby, GraceMed Health Clinic announced in a news release Wednesday.

“Not only does it allow us to expand and provide care for people who live in an area where very few services are available, but it allows us to focus on prevention for young students and will hopefully lead to students living healthier lifestyles,” said David Sanford, CEO of GraceMed, a health care ministry of the United Methodist Church.

All of the clinics will be managed by GraceMed.

Three of the clinics will be in Wichita schools. Sedgwick County received funds for a clinic at Jardine Middle School, the Wichita School District received funds for West High School and GraceMed received funds for South High School.

The Derby School District received funds for a clinic at Oaklawn Elementary School.

Each grant is $500,000, and the estimated construction cost for each clinic is $900,000. The grants, given by the Department of Health and Human Services to more than 197 recipients nationwide, total more than $80 million.

GraceMed will coordinate all of the construction projects, raise the remaining funds and provide primary care and oral health services at each location.

The clinics are required to be completed by the end of 2014. The remaining funds needed to build them will come from private sources, grants and foundations, Sanford said. The clinics will serve everyone, not just students.

Clinics will offer standard family practice care, immunizations and physicals for students and dental cleanings.

GraceMed hopes to partner with other agencies to offer mental health care services at the clinics, Sanford said.

Staff at each clinic will include two medical providers, typically a physician and midlevel practitioner, a dental hygienist, two nurses and two or three receptionists.

Once the clinics are built, they should be self-sustaining, Sanford said, because most of the children who seek services will qualify for Medicaid, a government program for low-income families.

“We see this as a real opportunity to reduce the amount of times students miss school and help them prevent illnesses,” said West High School Principal Joel Hudson. “If they feel better and are healthier, they’ll perform better in school.”

Hudson said that having the clinic close to the school may also provide for internships or other opportunities for students in the school’s health science academy studying pre-med.

The clinics will also accept Medicare and third party insurance, Sanford said

Three similar grants were awarded in 2010. GraceMed will open its clinic at Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary School on Jan. 7. In August, clinics will open at Gardiner and Cloud elementary schools, according to the release.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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