Southside Independent School District officials hope that, by fall, district students won’t have to miss much class time due to minor injuries and ailments.
The goal is for sick students to seek treatment at the Susan Hall Community Community Health Clinic, located next to central office headquarters, and return to class healthier.
University Health Systems is in negotiations with the district to run the health center. UHS already operates health centers in Harlandale and Southwest ISDs and is working with San Antonio ISD to run clinics at Tafolla and Davis middle schools in the coming years.
UHS and Southside hope to have the clinic up and running by the fall. The Southside clinic will be open to students, their family members, and other adults living in district boundaries.
Health care providers at the clinic would be able to offer primary care and handle typical school-related needs like immunizations and physicals, UHS spokeswoman Shelley Kofler said.
The Southside board is expected to vote on an agreement with UHS at a meeting on July 18, Southside spokesperson Randy Escamilla said.
“Because University Health Systems has the model, I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel,” Escamilla said. “Our job is to educate children and keep them in class and make sure they are healthy, so this clinic is just serving part of that bigger purpose.”
The district hopes the clinic will cut down on absenteeism and help boost student and community health. With the help of the clinic, a student wouldn’t necessarily need to be taken out of school each time they have a minor injury or illness.
Southside ISD instructional coach and parent Cindie Cantu called the new clinic a “blessing” for a rural school district that doesn’t have access to many of the same resources in urban school districts.
Cantu’s husband’s grandparents have lived in the district for many years and have experienced the challenge of lacking quick access to health care.
“It takes them quite a while to get to the nearest hospital or clinic – at least a 25- or 30-minute drive,” Cantu said.
The clinic has been two years in the making and was funded by a $1 million donation from philanthropist Kym Rapier. Susan Hall is Rapier’s mother.
In a letter written to the district, Rapier described her mother’s commitment to helping everyone.
“The Susan Hall Community Health Clinic was a dream, and inspired by my Mother, today it is a reality,” Rapier wrote.
The clinic lobby is currently decorated with sunflowers, Hall’s favorite flower, and a photo of Rapier and Hall. Once an operating agreement is finalized and the clinic opens, workers will move furniture into the new building and student artwork will also decorate the walls, Escamilla said.
The clinic has four operating rooms, a nurses station, laboratory, and two physicians offices. Depending on the final agreement, the clinic could be staffed by a physician or a midlevel provider such as a nurse practitioner.
“The hope and the intention is that we would serve the students, serve their families, and then serve members of that community, because there is nothing out there in terms of health care,” Kofler said.