Joplin school district officials propose new health clinic at new high school

Joplin school district officials propose new health clinic at new high school
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Last night, the Joplin School Board decided to table a proposal to build a new health clinic inside Joplin’s new high school. The proposed clinic would be different from conventional “nurse stations” inside schools.

Today is a good day for Madelaine Chotrow and Dean Summers. But there’s been “those times”.

“I had something sort of like the flu, and I skipped days for that,” says Chotrow.

Aside from having to call in sick for school…

“You have about 1.6 million minutes lost in two years just for doctors’ visits,” says Mark Barlass with the Joplin School District.

That’s time from students in grades nine through twelve, according to officials at the Joplin School District, who studies the current and last school years.

“So we started looking at the blue prints at the new high school. In particular, a particular suite within the second floor,” says Barlass.

School district officials want to build a new type of clinic at the high school. It would be staffed by area clinics, including Freeman Health.

“A full-time nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant, with a full-time nurse and perhaps a receptionist, with maybe splitting responsibilities there. The design that we have right now is an area that has three exam rooms, a lab area, a bathroom, and a small reception area,” says Barlass.

The cost to maintain this clinic would be covered by the outside area clinics.

“I think that’s pretty cool. Because I think some kids, they like (say), ‘oh well, I have a doctor’s appointment today, I’m just going to miss the rest of the day.’ So you can make sure they get back to class. I mean, I did it last year! I skipped school,” says Chotrow.

But the initial cost to build this proposed clinic is $120,000. School district officials say increased student attendance would make this price worthwhile.

“I don’t know how they’re going to work out both paying the doctors and having the kids pay for anything they might need,” says Dean Summers.

Plans call for the school clinic to operate after an open-enrollment period for parents and students to submit their insurance information.

School district officials say a higher attendance rate would make it easier to apply for state grants and other funding sources, also helping to cover the initial cost of building this clinic.

The school board has asked district officials to iron out more details of this proposal, including how the students and parents would be billed for services.

Watch the associated video to hear how district officials would address privacy issues for students that would go to this proposed clinic.

Barlass says, “Right now, it would not be open to the community. It would just be school-based. And I think within that, we could look at what is the potential for the future? We might have a site-based center just for high school, but Joplin has buses running for other activities throughout the district, and who’s to say if we have a child at one setting that needs access to a clinic, that we don’t have some transportation provided?”