A ceremony was held Thursday to mark the grand opening of the new Carevide school-based clinic in Commerce.
But make no mistake, the clinic has already been positively impacting the lives of Commerce ISD students for almost a month now.
The idea for the school-based health clinic was conceived in late 2018 after talks sprung up between the school district and Carevide. Spearheading the efforts for the district were Director of Health Services Kathy Myers and Family Services Coordinator Alison Walker. The pair had been heading up operations at the district’s Family and Community Engagement, or FACE, Center, which is a former career and technology building located behind Commerce Middle School.
At the time the idea for the clinic was first presented to the CISD Board of Trustees in December 2018, Myers said that this clinic would be able to offer services to students that couldn’t be done by school nurses at low cost, and that it could help keep students healthier, thereby improving attendance numbers and increasing state funding.
The measure was passed unanimously to allow the clinic to be formed in January, and work soon began on renovating the FACE Center to accommodate the changes.
The clinic was finally opened in early August. It is open during the school day on Mondays and Thursdays, and is available to all Commerce ISD students and their siblings up to age 22. Children of CISD employees who are not students within the district are also eligible.
The clinic is voluntary, not required, and parents must sign a consent form to allow their children to be taken there without their supervision. Even students who are uninsured can be seen at the clinic for a low cost.
Speaking on Friday, Walker said that the clinic has seen its fair share of use already. In the first two weeks, effectively four days of operation, the clinic had already seen 29 students. Some were there for immunizations, some for sports physicals, and others for routine medical checkups. Walker added that the clinic has had at least one student come in every day since it opened.
Myers and Walker stressed how beneficial the clinic has been from an immunization standpoint already. They said that on average, it usually takes until the second week of school for all students to be compliant and up to date on their shots so they can begin attending classes. This year with the clinic, all four campuses were 100-percent compliant by the second day of school, drastically improving attendance numbers.
And the people at both the clinic and the FACE Center have been more than willing to go out of their way to make sure students are healthy. Walker shared a story from the first week of school about a student that needed their immunizations. After getting a hold of a family member, they found out where the mother worked in town and drove to her job to help her fill out the form. Walker says that the mother was astonished.
“She was just blown away,” Walker said. “She said to us that she couldn’t believe a school would do all this.”
Myers says that the clinic has been a “game changer” and that it can have a profound impact on healthcare in the district.
“This is a completely new concept that people are unfamiliar with,” Myers said. “Some larger metro areas have these kinds of school-based clinics, but for northeast Texas it's unheard of.”
In addition to the clinic, the FACE Center itself saw some major upgrades. Thanks to a generous donation of nearly $40,000 from the Leadership Hunt County Class of 2018-19, the center was able to install washers, dryers and shower facilities within the building. If some students stay home because of a lack of clean clothes or bathing facilities, they can utilize the services in the FACE Center to keep them in class.
“With these facilities, we hope to increase attendance and amount of instruction time, keeping kids in school,” Myers said in an April interview. “Happy, healthy and safe students come to school better prepared to learn.”
On Thursday, community members, local dignitaries and more were invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the clinic hosted by the Commerce Chamber of Commerce. Representatives with State Senator Bob Hall and State Representative Dan Flynn were also in attendance.
The FACE Center and Carevide clinic is located on the north side of the Commerce Middle School campus at 606 Culver Street in Commerce.