Organizers look to keep LISD medical clinic open

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - It's the only clinic of it's kind in East Texas and now lack of funding could put its future in jeopardy.

The My Place to Access Care or MyPAC clinic was created in 2008 as affordable access to care for more than 8,000 Lufkin students.

The on-campus clinic was created through a three-year state grant, but now organizers are looking for other ways to fund the successful program.

Six-year-old Jayleen Ortega comes to school to be treated for her earache.

"I don't want to get my cousins sick," Ortega said. "I have two cousins and one sister. I don't want to get them sick."

She's there along with a waiting room full of patients at the MyPAC clinic at Lufkin Middle School.

"Since the beginning, we've known that the state dollars would go away," Program Director Meredith Stanford said. "They were intentionally designed to get you started."

The clinic provides affordable health care to Lufkin students.

They'll still apply for grants, but with state budget problems money is tight.

"It's a challenge and it's frustrating," Stanford said.

But when they're able to find the foreign object in Jacob Torres' eye from a fireworks explosion, refer him to an ophthalmologist, and get him back in class, they know the clinic works.

"We have hard data that says yes it does," LMS Principal Vickie Evans said. "Our attendance is better, our test scores are great, so it makes a difference."

Within about 20 minutes of being treated at the MyPAC clinic, 95 percent of students go back to their classrooms."

"We're not missing school, less absentees, and we don't have to go home, we can still stay here at school," Torres said.

They'll look to the community more for financial support to make sure patients like Ortega continue to get the help they need.

"There are so many successful school-based health centers out there that have gone on well after their three-year grant cycle with the state to continue to provide services and we will be one of those health centers," Stanford said.

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