The Paris School District Wellness Center at the High School has been operational since early 2011. The school-based health clinic allows students and staff to get the care they need without leaving the district. The clinic has recorded 1,522 health visits from July 2011 through December 2012.
The Wellness Center provides prevention based services to school-age children, PSD faculty and staff. Services offered include physicals, screenings, along with health counseling in areas such as nutrition, physical fitness, asthma management and smoking prevention. Mental Health Services are also available, for those having problems with stress management, depression, anxiety and other issues. The most frequent utilization of the clinic is well child exams, with 544 visits during 2011-12.
The clinic does not take the place of the school nurses or counselors. The nurses and counselors help in referring the students to the Wellness Center. The Paris Wellness Center staff includes Nicole Edwards, Health Coordinator; Erika Erika Adway, RN; and Marilyn Sanders, Mental Health Coordinator.
The clinic has also partnered with several local health care professionals to help provide services. Dr. Jason Richey, with Cooper Clinic, is on site three days a week to provide comprehensive annual exams, as well as care for illnesses. Dr. Nick Dollar, with Paris Dental Clinic, provides dental screenings two Fridays per month. The Wellness Center has also partnered with Dr. Ahn Chung of Arkansas Family Eye Care and Dr. Steve Roberts at Eye Care Associates to offer school linked services.
Students are seen in the Wellness Center, regardless of their ability to pay. Students without health insurance are assisted in applying for ARKids First to pay for services. Cooper Clinic assists in the billing process. Any amount that is not paid by insurance is written off by the health care providers.
"I feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life," Dr. Richey said. "I’m able to help kids who normally wouldn’t get my help."
Research shows that there is a strong relationship between a student’s physical and mental well-being and his or her academic achievement. The wellness clinic’s goal is to help students achieve their full potential, by making it easy for students to receive the services they need.
"The Wellness Center is a great asset to the students in the Paris School District. The staff benefit from it also. I would have to miss work to see a doctor. It has saved me several absentees, which in return has benefited myself and the students I work with. Every parent in the district should check into this for their child," said Martha Phillips, a PSD employee.
The Wellness Center is made possible by grant funds allocated by the Arkansas Department of Education through Act 180 of 2009 Tobacco Excise Tax. PSD is one of nine districts in the state of Arkansas who has been awarded the grant.