Gurley community vision of HEALS Inc. clinic becomes reality

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. --  HEALS Inc. and the Gurley community has been working toward opening a Gurley clinic for the past few years. Today, that vision became a reality as the non-profit held a ribbon cutting for its new building on the campus of Madison County Elementary.

Executive Director of Heals Inc. Teek Patnaik said this clinic is the culmination of a community effort over the past three to five years.

"They have the obstacle of having to cross the mountain to get to a lot of resources. And a lot of the resources that they do have are in neighboring municipalities, and the kids here don't have access to it," he explained.

The HEALS Inc. clinic at Madison County Elementary will serve students and their siblings at neighboring middle and high schools. Their patients are primarily on public insurance, or no insurance at all.

"The parents can drop their kids off at school and by the time they pick them up their child has had their medical check up, and the things that they need to be successful in that classroom," said Patnaik.

He said every child deserves the most accessible, quality medical care possible. "It's unarguable that you can't expect a child to do successfully in the classroom if they are not physically and mentally well. So for us, it's being able to fulfill a basic human need."

Madison County Schools Superintendent Matt Massey said the HEALS clinic will also help the district improve attendance, which is a goal of theirs.

"We want our kids in our classroom learning, and so this partnership is just going to help the whole student. Not just for health and dental, but also in the classroom as they excel academically."

The students won't have to take a sick day to go see a doctor. Now they can just walk across the sidewalk to get the medical attention they need.

The Gurley clinic begins patient enrollment on Monday, August 28. This HEALS clinic will serve qualifying students from birth to age 19 with medical and dental healthcare.