The El Dorado School district is set to open a medical clinic that will offer students and teachers everything from physical exams to dental fillings.
The clinic will offer physical, dental and mental health services, according to El Dorado School-Based Health Center administrator Debbie McAdams. She says it will make access to health care more convenient for the more than 700 students and staff at Washington Middle School.
“If a staff member thinks they have strep throat and my physicals provider is on site, send them down there,” McAdams said. “It’s just like going to an urgent care clinic. They will be able to be treated, get their prescription, and when they go home, get their medicine, and hopefully keep them in school.”
There are 23 school-based health centers across Arkansas made possible through a state tobacco excise tax enacted five years ago. Tamara Baker, school-based health center adviser at the Arkansas Department of Health, believes these medical clinics promote productivity in schools.
“We know we want to graduate students that are ready to go to work, or go to college, or go to the military, they have to be healthy,” Baker said. “This is a step in many steps we’re taking to increase our economic development and to close those gaps around health care for children.”
The first Arkansas school district to open a school-based clinic cited a 20 percent drop in absenteeism the first year, Baker said. She commends the El Dorado school district for opening up a clinic.
“Students that have a school-based health center on campus are so lucky because it’s not mandated. No one is forced to have a school-based health center on campus. This is a school district that’s made a commitment to students,” Baker said.
McAdams says the school clinic will be staffed by a nurse practitioner three days a week. A dentist will see clinic patients once a week. Consent forms to use the facility went home Monday with middle school students. A grand opening ribbon cutting is set for Sept. 2 at 10 a.m., with tours of the facility at 10:30 a.m.