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Polk Schools to open first community health center in county

Posted at 4:49 PM, May 03, 2019

LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County Schools are giving back through the health community.

On May 16, the county’s first school clinic will open to students, parents and those living in Polk County.

Central Florida Healthcare will staff the facility.

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The health clinic, housed on campus at Crystal Lake Elementary, is made up of two portables, each measuring approximately 675 square feet.

In late February, crews started the process of renovating the spaces to create exam rooms, a nurse's station, vaccination room, offices and ADA-compliant restrooms.

The construction will also create an entrance and waiting room dedicated to students and school staff members. Another entrance and waiting room will be for members of the community.

On one side of the portable buildings, students will be accepted and treated. On the other side, parents and community members are welcome to seek medical care whether they have insurance or not.

“We will not turn anyone away,” Kristan Fowler, the principal of Crystal Lake Elementary said.

The need is there, according to the principal. A majority of the students at the elementary school walk to school and Polk County Schools tells ABC Action News 84% of the students attending and their families live below the poverty line.

Over 50% of families attending Polk Schools are also considered low income.

Fowler says providing a school based clinic will help student performance as well as the community as a whole.

“They don’t come to learn, they try to reach somebody at home and there's no one to pick them up and they end up going back to class and you can’t learn if you’re not feeling well,” Fowler said.

The school says the clinic will begin by opening two days a week, which will enable them to expand services and hours as they are needed.

In addition to the school district and Central Florida Health Care, other partners involved in the community partnership school project include Heartland for Children, Southeastern University and United Way of Central Florida.

Polk Vision has also been instrumental in facilitating the project and works closely with the core partners in aligning resources to support the students, families and residents of the Crystal Lake community.

According to the community partnership school director, Andrea Hagan, the goal is to lift the quality of life within an entire community.

“The immediate short-term outcomes for our students will be a reduction in healthcare gaps, and an increase in attendance and academic performance,” Hagan said.