Lavaca Wellness Center Celebrates Anniversary | Schools
The Lavaca Wellness Center recently marked the clinic’s two year anniversary. Dr. Robert Sanders, D.O., nurse practitioner Jonathan Broniste, and their staff saw more than 6,600 patient visits in 2012. Nearly 26% of that number was students at Lavaca Public Schools. Despite minimal advertising, Dr. Sanders and Mr. Broniste see a long list of patients daily. In October of 2012, the clinic saw their most patients ever in a month: 732 of which 23.5% were students.
“By being available on the school campus, we can actually make a difference in the absenteeism of the children,” Jonathan Broniste, the clinic’s nurse practitioner explained.
The Wellness Center is the only school-based clinic in the state to boast a full-time physician and has grown in only 24 months. The clinic has added additional employees and is now offering allergy testing and immunotherapy. They are also considering expanding which would allow them to then offer childhood immunizations.
“The ease and convenience of having a child seen at the clinic has made it successful. Also, being the only health provider in town helps. By word of mouth, we continue to see new patients every day, so we are constantly growing,” Broniste said.
In addition to the Wellness Clinic, the campus is also home to Friddle Dentistry and the soon-to-open Lavaca Eye Clinic. Students and teachers are able to be seen by medical personnel during a brief break from the school day without having to miss hours or even an entire day. It’s especially helpful for parents who live in Lavaca but work in Fort Smith or farther away.
“Often time parents don’t even have to leave work to take their child to be seen by any of the three providers,” Lavaca’s Coordinated School Health Director Cristi Cleveland explained. “School transportation to and from the clinic is provided and students can be back in class within the hour.”
Currently, the school is receiving $525,000 in grant funding over a period of three years to support building the infrastructure for the Wellness Center. Once the grant funding runs out, the doctors involved will pay rent/utilities to the district for the spaces occupied, creating a funding stream supporting the school.
Broniste says they don’t take the clinic’s success for granted.
“It is a very positive feeling that we have been so well received in the community. Without the utilization of the clinic, we would not have been able to remain in business with two full-time providers.”
Arkansas has 14 school-based healthcare centers, and Cleveland believes they make a significant difference in the lives of students.
“School based healthcare is important because the better health of the child leads to a better education for the child. Better health equals a better education which results in a better future.”
Meanwhile, the Lavaca Eye Clinic is set to open its doors on April 1st. Dr. Hon Chung, an optometrist from Van Buren will begin seeing patients then. In the beginning, he will make appointments for every other Wednesday. Call (479) 674-4321 for an appointment.