By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
“This is an exciting opportunity for us.”
That’s what Whitley County Board of Education Chair Larry Lambdin said moments before announcing that a health clinic will soon be open for students in the school district.
During a special-called meeting of the board Thursday, members were joined by Jellico Community Hospital President/CEO Erik Wangsness and JCH Vice-President of Clinical Services Pamela Hodge.
Together, the BOE and JCH will enter a contract for the hospital to provide health care needs for Whitley County Schools’ students.
It was explained that Wangsness called and expressed an interest in providing those much-needed health care services for Whitley County Schools.
The only step left to take for the board was to approve the contract, then have the board’s attorney review the document.
“(This is) a new endeavor — something (that could be) replicated across Kentucky and Tennessee as funding challenges arise,” Wangsness said.
Once all the Ts are crossed and the Is dotted, the clinic should start servicing the students Sept. 9.
“(We have) created something that really works well for the kids and the staff,” said Superintendent Scott Paul, adding that staff members, whether teachers, administration or maintenance, also have access to the clinic.
Board member Delmar Mahan said he was “thankful” that JCH wanted to work with the schools. “I hope this becomes a great partnership,” he said.
“This is exciting — we feel really good about it,” said Paul.
“This takes one more worry off of us,” Lambdin said, with several board members agreeing. “We’re in the education business, not health care.”
Board member Malorie Cooper motioned to approve the contract pending the review from the board attorney, with a second from Board member Brenda Hill.
A voice vote showed the board to be unanimous in this decision.
Paul added that he’d like to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the clinic opens Sept. 9.