HEALS puts finishing touches on clinic to serve Madison County students, siblings

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GURLEY, Ala. - A new facility will help more than 400 Madison County students and their siblings receive health care from now on.  It's the newest addition to the HEALS network of clinics.

Those behind the HEALS' logo know health care is important for all children, and they have the stories to prove it.

"He got a new toothbrush and at the end of that cleaning, he was just enamored at the fact that that was his own personal toothbrush, and that he did not have to share that toothbrush with any of his siblings," HEALS Executive Director Teek Patnaik recalled about a particularly touching circumstance

HEALS, Health Establishments at Local Schools Inc, offers free health care to children in school-based facilities. The newest clinic is on Madison County Elementary School's campus.

"That Gurley area is a part of the county that is severely under served in terms of medical providers, specifically for children on public insurance," Patnaik explained.

The building now houses three clinics in one. The medical clinic should open towards the end of summer, the optometry clinic after the holidays and the dental office by spring of 2018. It will offer a preventative care as a solution to a problem.

"Instead of catching them at a pre-condition to where it's just a toothache, to where we can get it in and get it treated, that we're waiting until it's 11 at night," Patnaik said regarding the problem. "It's a full blown episode and they're in crisis and it's way more expensive to catch it at that 11th hour."

Students and their siblings from birth through age 19 can receive crucial care at the new clinic. The goal is to take care of students' health so they can take care of their school work.

"We want to be able to invest in an entire generation that can go and not have to use our services anymore," Patnaik said.

HEALS' next mission is improving access to mental health care for the young patients it serves. They are working on plans for a new facility specific to those needs.