Lavaca Wellness Center Celebrates Anniversary

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The school-based wellness clinic in Lavaca saw thousands of patients its first year open.  One parent says it even helped save her son’s life.

“I was falling down a lot and I was getting really weak, and I didn’t really know what was going on,” says 4th grade student Cayden Hearn.

Although then 8-year-old Hearn was recovering from the flu, his parents Clyfton and Tonya Hearn say they knew something else was seriously wrong with their son.

“He had another spell where he nearly passed out and we called our pediatrician and they didn’t have any times available, and so Tonya said let’s try to get him into the clinic,” says Clyfton.

Less than a month after the Lavaca Wellness Center opened last January, the Hearn’s knew it was their only option for their son to see a doctor quick.

“I mean immediate,” says Tonya, “It wasn’t an appointment time. It was just bring him in, we’ll get him in, and they literally met me at the door as I’m getting here.”

“They took care of me, and I didn’t really like the finger sticks because it hurt and whenever they were done, they just said we needed to go to Children’s,” says Cayden.

After rushing to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, the Hearn’s discovered Cayden is diabetic. Thanks to the school-based clinic, they say they didn’t waste precious time getting him treatment. The doctors say if they waited one more day, he could have slipped into a coma.

Nearly 6,000 people came to the clinic its first year open, and doctors say they continue to stay busy.

"It's been pretty exciting, you know, we didn't really know how busy we were going to be, and it's been kind of a blessing that we've been as busy as we have," says Nurse Practitioner Jonathan Broniste.

The wellness center averages about 500 patients a month and is the only school-based clinic in the state with a full-time physician.

Since the clinic opened last year, teacher absences are down 20%.

Physicians say the clinic operates as a normal doctor's office would. The only thing they can’t do is X-RAYS, but they do accept insurance and other health coverage.

Parents say they also enjoy the convenience of the clinic. School nurses can take a student to the Wellness Center during school hours to be examined, saving parents from taking off work.

Eighteen patients over the past year have been students, 3% were faculty, and the rest were members of the community.