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Oxford School District unveils Charger Health and Wellness clinic

The Oxford School District introduced a mobile primary care clinic last August, but on Monday the district held a small grand opening for its new Charger Health and Wellness Clinic.

The clinic will be taking over the Oxford Learning Center building, which is located behind Central Elementary School and serve as a permanent place for students of the Oxford School District to receive healthcare when access to such care may be difficult for them elsewhere.

The school district entered into a partnership with North Mississippi Primary Health Clinics (NMPHC), which is a private-nonprofit Community Health Center organization with eight clinics and a mobile unit in north Mississippi.

A mobile unit has been utilized by OSD since the 2020-21 school year began in August, but the new clinic will be open this summer and offer more services, including helping with mental health and dental services.

All services and treatments are free for the students.

“As a nurse, what I experienced, and all the nurses in the district can probably tell you the same thing, is we have a lot of students who come to us and they really see the nurses office as their primary healthcare,” said OSD lead school nurse Meg Hayden. “We’re very limited as to what we can offer them in the nurses office. We do what we can, but to have a place to refer them and refer them during the school day, provide transportation, know they are going to get real, quality care that’s cost free is unbelievable.”

The clinic will offer primary and preventative care, behavioral health and oral health.

The past year has revealed a lot of issues, including struggles with mental health, among students due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting to learning at home away from classmates. When OSD returned to in-person learning in August, for those students who chose to return, mental health issues became evident. The new clinic will offer services to aid the nurses and teachers in helping get their students the best care possible.

The school district still has a contract with Communicare, but the clinic will provide another option for mental healthcare.

“I don’t know how we would have gotten through the school year, with all the challenges of COVID, with out (NMPHC),” Hayden said. “Especially for me, being in the high school setting, I think we’re just seeing the mental health effects COVID has had on our students and our staff.”