East Tenn. school opens medical clinic, attendance up

MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One East Tennessee school system is taking healthcare into their own hands, and have opened an in-school medical clinic.

But, the clinic has helped not only students' health but their attendance as well.

With more than 3,000 students in Union County Schools, it can be more than just one nurse can handle, but this school year, a full clinic is making a big difference.

It's not your typical medical office, with little ones waiting their turn to see a nurse.

"We practice as any other doctor's office." says the nurse of the Maynardville Elementary based clinic, Cyndy Nicely.

As the nurse at the school based clinic, she can do more than just send kids home when they don't feel well.

Cyndy says "we're examining their throat, we can do the fast strep test and we can tell in 6 minutes if the kid has strep throat, whether they need to be around the rest of the children."

The clinic opened at the beginning of the school year with help from Cherokee Health Systems, and services are available to all county students, staff, and their families.

Eddie Graham, the Union Co. School Health Coordinator, says "we had 1 nurse that served our entire county."

But, now that nurse can focus on other students, while Cyndy and 2 Nurse Practitioners are based out of the Elementary School.

Eddie says "instead of their parents having to come check them out of school and take them up to the clinic, they can make the appointment, be right here and have it done while they're right here on campus."

So far this school year, the clinic has helped with attendance rates.

The nurses are able to make sure students are not contagious and give them any medicine they may need.

"Which keeps the children in school and let them go back to class." according to Cyndy.

And if a child is contagious, they know before it spreads to the rest of the students and staff.

Cyndy says "we can keep them until we get a hold of mom and dad, and see them by the Nurse Practitioner as a patient, or let them go home."

And the advanced school medical care is available to anyone, even without insurance.

Cyndy says "we have a lot of children that do not have insurance, we have a lot of children that we see with our sliding scale fee."

Union County Schools hopes to open up other clinics in their schools so some children and their families do not have to drive to Maynardville Elementary.

And with all the positive feedback they're getting, they hope other school systems will open up their own clinic and provide healthcare to their students as well.

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