GraceMed to open two school-based clinics in September

Two school-based neighborhood clinics operated by GraceMed are slated to open in September.

The clinics, which are being constructed using federal grants awarded in 2010, will be at Gardiner, 1951 S. Laura, and Cloud, 1212 W. 25th St. North, elementary schools in USD 259.

“We believe in school-based clinics to ensure preventive primary health care is available to children and since our school-based clinics are located in ‘health care deserts’ (underserved areas) others including pre-school children, adults and seniors in the neighborhood may access care,” said GraceMed CEO Dave Sanford.

The projects are part of a broader move by GraceMed to serve areas that may have limited access to health care. In January, GraceMed opened its clinic at Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary School with funding from the same round of grants.

Federal grants for each site were about $500,000, but the construction cost for each is about $850,000, Sanford said. GraceMed is relying on community donations and some of its cash reserves to pay for the clinics, he said, and the nonprofit is still raising funds for both sites.

GraceMed wants to build four more school-based clinics, using funds from another round of grants – $500,000 for each of the four facilities – announced early this year. Construction recently began at Oaklawn Elementary in Derby, with some school bond money going toward completing the building, Sanford said. Work at the other three Wichita clinics, Jardine Middle School, South High School and West High School, will likely start after the first of the year.

The Gardiner and Cloud clinics will each have six exam rooms, a dental operatory and a room to partner with the district to provide behavioral health services. The clinics also will help provide fluoride treatments and sealants to children and work closely with school nurses, Sanford said.

“They will truly be neighborhood clinics,” he said. “We want to be just another resource for (the schools) to use to make sure kids are healthy.”

Clinic staff will be employed by GraceMed. The clinic at Gardiner will start with one full-time nurse practitioner and will add another provider in the first few months, most likely a physician, Sanford said.

About 90 percent of the more than 590 students at Gardiner Elementary are on free or reduced lunch, said Shannon Benoit, Gardiner principal.

Benoit said the clinic will be especially helpful for students who have diabetes and asthma. She’s already had kids create artwork and a banner for the new clinic.

The clinic at Cloud Elementary will have a family physician and nurse practitioner. The population around Cloud has been served since 1998 by a clinic at nearby Evergreen Park, in a building owned by the city that also used to house part of the health department, Sanford said.

Cloud Principal Chris Wendt said he’s been watching the progress on the new clinic. About 97 percent of Cloud’s students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“It’s coming along nicely,” he said. “The benefit to Cloud is it’s basically close to an on-site medical facility where if we have concerns, where sometimes kids come to school sick or have fevers, they can walk 10 feet outside to GraceMed to get medical attention.”

Once completed, the clinics will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They will accept insurance and KanCare, and they and will have a sliding fee scale base on income for the uninsured.