A partnership between Polk School District and Floyd Healthcare Management continue to bear positive outcomes for students and educators alike, and a new addition to Cedartown Middle School seeks to increase that access.

This past Friday, administrators from the central office came together with officials from Floyd Polk Medical Center to celebrate the opening of a new clinic in a classroom for the benefit of all students across the district.

A converted classroom space will now act as a place for students to get wellness checks, quick doctor visits when they are sick or even to get a sports physical and much more in an effort to increase the positive health outcomes of local youth.

Presented earlier in the year to the school board as a chance to ensure that students are getting the care they need beyond the school nurse program for each school campus, the clinic is meant to provide access to youth who usually wouldn’t get to see a physician once they start school and after receiving required vaccinations, and might not see one again until after their high school years are completed.

Dr. Lyndsay Claroni, who is the physician in charge of overseeing the new program, said the hope is to catch diseases that affect children and can continue into adulthood early and avoid problems in the future.

“We’ve been researching this for several years, and we’ve found there’s a significant discrepancy in the ages of 5 to 18 that children are no longer required to go to wellness checks because they aren’t receiving vaccines on a regular basis,” Claroni said. “Several kids or children may go several years without seeing a physician. This is a chance to introduce that to them and at least have the check every couple of years versus going 10 to 15 years without seeing a physician.”

She’ll be assisted by Staci Graves, PA, in providing health care services to local youth.

“We have recognized that at this age, there’s a little bit of a gap,” Graves said. “We hope that this makes access to care a little easier as we are able to be here for them.”

They’ll act as a mobile clinic, going to where they are needed at the moment rather than strictly sticking to the Cedartown Middle campus.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins sees the new program as a natural extension of the partnership already between the local hospital and the schools.

“We are very excited to continue our partnership with Floyd Polk Medical Center. Having the hospital open a clinic in our schools provides our students, parents and staff the opportunity to receive medical treatment at their convenience without ever having to leave the building,” she said. “This is just one more way we strive to provide healthy school environment.”

Clinic access will be offered up to any student who need a doctors visit — whether it be to check for problems like diabetes and obesity — as well as educators and staff who might have an illness and can’t take off work to head to an office to see their usual physician.

The clinic access will be located at Cedartown Middle for the time being, with the idea that Claroni and Graves will be able to move to other campuses as needed in the coming months as the school year continues.

Floyd Healthcare Management’s Chris Butler added that the partnership strengthens the relationship the hospital has in the community.

“One of the greatest opportunities for us is to decrease the barriers to access to medical care,” he said. “This is going to allow for a convenient visit for a child without a parent having to leave work. It is also going to be a benefit for employers for a productivity standpoint, because that parent is now no longer out of work to take their child to a wellness visit.”

“It goes back to the core mission of Floyd: be responsive to the community we serve, and this is one way we’re trying to be responsive,” Butler added.

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