An in-house health clinic is expected to open inside Topeka High School by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, district officials said Wednesday.
“Expanding health care services is part of our district five-year strategic plan,” superintendent Tiffany Anderson said in an email. “We are excited to continue the work of finding ways to support the needs of our students through creative partnerships.”
Members of the Topeka Unified School District 501 board of education approved Kendall Construction, of Topeka, to make the structural changes at the school that, according to board documents, are expected to cost $127,242 and will be paid for with capital outlay funds. To make room for the health clinic, other offices on the west end of the first floor that will be renovated or reconfigured include areas for the school’s security, business, cafeteria, athletic director and basketball coach, board documents show.
While the board approved the project during its Dec. 21 business meeting, few concrete details about the project were available Wednesday, like an opening date and what specific services will be provided other than “health care and mental health services” and what money will be used for ongoing operating expenses.
Misty Kruger, USD 501’s director of communications, said Topeka High was chosen as the location for the clinic because of its enrollment numbers and that the school is eligible for federal funds. She said it hasn’t been determined who will provide the health care services other than the district has “been able to form multiple partnerships to provide services in a variety of ways for our students who are in need.”
“That’s still part of the logistics being worked out,” she said in an email.
Kruger said USD 501 has already expanded mental health services by increasing the number of counselors and social workers throughout the district.
The district has been partnering with Grace Med, a Wichita-based health care provider, since the beginning of the current school year to provide dental health services for USD 501 students.
Alice Weingartner, Shawnee County’s health center director for Grace Med, said that partnership is going well, serving an estimated 300 students who are eligible for Medicaid.
“With that program, we’re able to go to the school and provide preventative screenings, education, do a cleaning, provide sealants and flouride treatments as needed,” she said. “We expect to see those kids — most of those kids and probably some new kids this spring because we can see them multiple times.”
While Grace Med won’t be providing services for the Topeka High School clinic, Weingartner said plans are still in place for a free-standing clinic that will serve the Chase Middle School-State Street Elementary campus in the Oakland neighborhood in North Topeka.
The cost of building that facility, she said, will be paid for as part of a “stretch goal” of $930,000 that will follow Grace Med’s current “Project Wellspring” capital campaign that is expected to conclude this fall.
That campaign is currently raising $565,000 to match a $500,000 donation to renovate the former Dillons grocery store in central Topeka into a Grace Med health clinic.
Weingartner said the Chase-State Street clinic will be the property of USD 501, and Grace Med will lease the facility from the district.
The Chase-State Street clinic is expected to provide the same primary, preventive and behavioral health care services that are provided at seven school-based clinics that Grace Med operates in Wichita USD 259, Weingartner said.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.