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Healthcare goes to school

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Dr. Arthur Fournier,co-founder of the University of Miami's Project Medishare Haiti and founder of Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative,/ Miami Herald photo 

By Nadege Green   A student suffering from a mild asthma attack stops by North Miami High’s medical clinic. After receiving a breathing treatment, he heads back to class in 30 minutes.

At John F. Kennedy Middle, a student stops by the dental trailer and gets a sealant painted onto her teeth to prevent cavities.

The services are the results of the Dr. John T. Macdonald School Health Initiative, a network of school-based health clinics that operate out of nine Miami-Dade public schools, mostly in North Miami and North Miami Beach.

As more and more students depend on school-based health clinics for their primary medical care, the initiative’s offerings have expanded to keep up. While they began as basic medical clinics, they have morphed into centers for eye care, dental health and psychological services.

“The idea is a simple one. The best place to get healthcare to kids is where they are most of the time, which is school,” said Dr. Arthur Fournier, who helped start the school-based clinics more than a decade ago. 

At the beginning of the school year, students turn in a parental consent form that allows them to be seen by the clinic staff. That means parents don’t have to leave work for their child to get medical attention unless the child is seriously ill.

Experts and health providers point to a direct correlation between access to healthcare and academic success. (Read more.) 

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