A Monroe County nonprofit plans to expand its public school health clinic program this fall, adding dental care to the list of primary care services it offers students and teachers.
The $778,000 2017-18 program, which seeks $60,000 from the School Board, has seen everything from cardiac problems and fractured ankles to strep throat and pink eye. Forty-one percent of those served are uninsured and 29 percent have Medicaid while the rest were insured.
“It is a primary care center,” said Michael Cunningham, chief executive of the Florida Keys Area Health Education Center, which started the school clinics three years ago at four sites and today is at seven spots. “We’re now the medical home for a lot of folks.”
Cunningham presented the proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting in Marathon. No vote was taken and none will likely be needed, said School Board Chairman John Dick.
“It’s going to be in the budget,” Dick said. “It will probably be ongoing.”
Last year, the board delivered $75,000 to AHEC for the no-cost clinics that Cunningham says help the most medically vulnerable students in the Keys.
The clinics are at Key Largo School, Coral Shores High School, Marathon Middle/High School, Stanley Switlik Elementary, Sugarloaf School, Horace O’Bryant School and Key West High School. Gerald Adams Elementary in Key West will be added this fall and Key West High will go from having a clinic one day a week to three.
AHEC wants to expand its clinics to eight sites, implement dental health care and continue hosting classroom health education programs.
Children’s dental care is a crying need in Monroe County, Cunningham said, with only one Medicaid provider located in marathon. AHEC wants to provide an oral health assessment to all second- and seventh-graders in the county and, after that, case management and no-cost dental sealants to those who qualify.
Board members Andy Griffiths and Mindy Conn both welcomed the AHEC expansion.
“It’s hard to believe how many little kids have pain in their mouths because they’ve never seen a dentist,” said Griffiths.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen