SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Nearly half of all Kindergarten through fifth graders in the Sioux Falls school district are on free and reduced lunch. Since many of those kids also don't have access to health care, the district began to look for ways to bring health care to them. And that's now happening thanks to a partnership with Falls Community Health.
It all begins in the nurse's office. The nurse sees the child and then decides whether that child should be seen at the school-based clinic at Terry Redlin. Then they'll decide whether that child needs to go home or can go back to class.
Kids and families without health insurance often don't make it to the doctor's office for illnesses. That means no medication to get well and days spent home from school.
“There are programs for them to receive health care and we have phenomenal health care opportunities in the community. But our challenge was getting the child to the care,” Superintendent Pam Homan said.
So the Sioux Falls school district and Falls Community Health brought that care right to their doorstep.
“We have tried to focus on areas of town that the kids are really in need, the families are in need. So what we did was sought out two schools that are Title 1 schools. The majority of the children are on free and reduced lunch,” Judy Kendall with Falls Community Health said.
A brand-new free-standing school-based clinic is a new addition to Terry Redlin Elementary. Unlike Hawthorne's School-based clinic, Terry Redlin's has a private entrance. So not only students can be served but also those living in the neighborhood.
Complete with two large exam rooms - and room to grow, children and adults can get health care based on a sliding pay scale.
And it's not just medical care; every month a dentist and hygienist will staff the facility.
“If the kids are healthy with their dental and medical needs, they're going to be in the classroom and they're going to be able to study and focus and concentrate. And so it's a win-win for the children, their families, for us to be able to provide health care to these kids and their families,” Kendall said.
“Mom and dad doesn't have to get off work to bring them. They do give full permission, but the child can receive care and many times, they're able to be back in school much sooner,” Homan said.
Kids are already being seen at the Terry Redlin Falls Community Health Clinic. But it will be open to the community at a date later this month.
The clinic will be open half days through the end of the school year. Based on funding, the clinic could be open full days next year.
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