The school district of Hartford, Connecticut has an ambitious, community-changing goal. The city and district want to see health clinics in every school in the city, eventually. That’s a tall order, and a virtually unseen combination. But they’ve taken the first step. Parkville Clinic opened on Monday, February 22nd in Parkville Elementary School.

Putting the clinic directly in the school ensures that it will be accessible to parents of young children. The people running it hope particular that it will be convenient for those who would normally have difficulty getting to a clinic and might wind up in the emergency room instead for what should have been routine issues.

“When we talk about community schools, and talk about putting community assets like clinics in our schools so that schools aren’t just centers of learning, but centers of community, this is exactly what we’re talking about,” said Hartford’s Mayor Luke Bronin under the balloons of the the clinic’s grand opening. Mayor Bronin is a major supporter of the idea to have a clinic in every school.

A $360,000 federal grant was the main provision that made the clinic possible. It’s run by Charter Oak Health Center, a medical company local to Hartford. They expect the Parkville Clinic to see about two thousand visits a year. A number that seems small, but could make a vital difference to the school’s low-income students, their families, and their neighborhoods. Nichelle Mullins, CEO of Charter Oak, hopes that future grants will help them provide income-based fee ladders to potential patients.

Health care obstacles are one of the major reasons that students lose momentum in their education. School nurses are a stop-gap measure that doesn’t provide any solutions bigger than a band-aid. Putting an actual clinic directly in the school can wipe out that obstacle. It’s very likely that time will show better grades and better prospects coming out of Parkville Elementary, along with a healthier community.