The Highland School District (HSD) applied for and was awarded the Arkansas School-Based Health Center Grant in the spring of 2018. The grant is a competitive application process made possible by the Arkansas Tobacco Excise Tax created by Arkansas Act 180 of 2009. The program is a collaboration between the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Arkansas Department of Health. The funds are used to promote health, wellness, and academic achievement in Arkansas public schools and help districts with the initial costs of opening and operating a school-based health center (SBHC). The grant is distributed over five years totaling $540,000. Annual renewal is based on a review of annual progress and appropriation of Tobacco Excise Tax funding.
In January 2018, HSD met with local physicians and medical facility administrators and discussed the healthcare needs of students, district goals, SBHC grant guidelines, and steps for providers to submit proposals. The district sent Request for Proposal letters to everyone who attended and received three proposals. After careful review, St. Bernards Healthcare was chosen as the SBHC medical provider.
After HSD was awarded the grant, the district purchased a medical building adjacent to the high school campus to house the Highland School-Based Health Clinic (HSBHC). The building and clinic are part of the Highland campus. The clinic serves students and staff from Cherokee Elementary School, Highland Middle School, Highland High School, and Highland Alternative Education. A portion of the building is the HSBHC, where students and staff are served. St. Bernards leases the remaining space for a community clinic, and it is projected after eight years, the lease payments will pay for the building.
During the 2018-19 school year, the district renovated the HSBHC portion of the building and purchased medical furniture, equipment, and supplies. In the spring of 2019, the district held an Open House and officially opened the health clinic in August 2019 to Highland students and staff.
During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, the district collaborated with Dr. Goacher, from All About Smiles, and Dr. Ellis, from Progressive Eye Center, to renovate spaces for dental and vision services and to purchase dental and vision equipment and supplies. The HSBHC began providing dental and vision services to students in August 2022.
The HSD does not pay the medical providers for their services. The providers bill Medicaid and private insurance when applicable. The providers serve all enrolled students needing health care regardless of their ability to pay.
Crystal Shackelford, APRN, and Dr. Guinn, MD, with St. Bernards First Care, are available Monday through Friday for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of acute or chronic illness, disease management, medication management, and sports physicals.
Dr. Ellis and staff from Progressive Eye Center volunteer one day a month to come to our on-campus vision clinic to perform routine eye exams, diagnostic testing, and prescription glasses if needed.
Dr. Goacher and staff from All About Smiles, including a dental hygienist, volunteer to come to our two-chair, on-site dental clinic one day a month to provide dental cleanings, digital x-ray, routine dental exams, basic fillings, extractions, and sealants.