The Beebe School Board got the balling rolling last week on a school-based health-care center from ARcare, approving a letter of intent for the project.
Representatives from ARcare, including Senior Vice President of Operations Clint Shackelford, were present at the July Beebe School Board meeting to give Supertintendent Dr. Chris Nail and the board information about what a health-care clinic would offer for the district and community.
Shackelford said Beebe has partnered with ARcare on a telehealth program over the last year and he feels that has been successful after talking to school administrators. More than anything else last week, Shackelford said ARcare wanted to entertain any questions on the project, which he called “doable.”
Having “a live provider on campus is instant care for your students and staff if needed,” he said. “We want to be that person. I think we can fulfill promises and take care of students and staff.”
Nail said Beebe would be applying for a $500,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Education to help fund the program over a four-year period. He said there are stipulations that come with it, though.
“One is that we will have to hire a liaison full-time on our dime who will be the person that will be the point of contact,” Nail said. “No. 2 is that person and several of us will have to go to Washington, D.C., to be trained. There are certain things we have to do.
“I believe if we got the grant, we would get $200,000 upfront money.”
Nail said with all the construction going on in the district, the way to go would be to let ARcare fund the health-care center and then the district apply for the grant.
If the health-care center does get opened in Beebe, Nail said the state will give the district the money because “they want some control in what’s going on. If they don’t give us the money, they have no control in what’s going on.”
Nail said he in “no way wanted to be the medical czar,” but he said “we want to have these services to help kids.” Nail also said he did not want one pharmacy to be favored when it came to calling in prescriptions for those who used the health-care center.
In a preliminary design for the center, Nail said there would be a staff entrance and a waiting room entrance where the community enters. “The staff and the kids will be seen first,” he said. The plans also have the current board room at the central office as the new area for the Badger Food Pantry. There will also be a “Loss of Learning Center and a clothes closet,” he said.
Nail called the area a “one-stop shop for our community outreach.”
As of now, there is nothing in the plans about offering dentistry but in the floor plans there is space for a dental area with two chairs.
Asked by Nail if an area dentist could be incorporated if interested, Shackelford said “absolutely.” Information about sublease rights would have to be included, according to Shackelford.
“In some of the school-based health centers we are in, we went out and pursued a dentist for the district, helped them find a dentist,” he said. “That is really your decision to make.”
Nail said he worries about dental care because “some of kids mouths hurt all the time.” Nail said he would also love to have a eye doctor come to campus on a regular basis. Plans also have space for a mental health room.
Shackelford said since ARcare does not have dental or optometry services, ”they don’t have any skin in the game but that would just be us trying to assist students. We did that at Southside, it took three years to find a pediatric dentist and she just showed up in Batesville. She comes twice or three times a month. She is just full of kids. We have kids that have never been to the dentist.”
School board member Jason Smith asked about hours for the health-care center….