Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy is broadening and strengthening its roster of support resources by establishing a health clinic to address students’ healthcare needs. Located on the CGLA campus, the facility will be available to serve students at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Aware of the benefits that access to healthcare services can have on student success, Dr. Elaine Swafford, executive director of CGLA, sought to reduce the variety of health-related obstacles that interfere with educational achievement. “Creating a space where students can promptly and easily receive medical attention has been a long-standing priority,” said Dr. Swafford. “However, we needed to develop a model that was specific to our students.”
Dr. Swafford continued by emphasizing that she and the CGLA board of directors were deliberate about the type of program they wanted to implement. She highlighted that planning revolved around two objectives: removing the financial burden associated with medical care and hiring a professional to deliver service while also building trust relationships with students. “The operation of the clinic must align with CGLA’s core values and mission. If we want to have a positive impact on educational success, we must deliver services that are both free of charge and administered by a trusted medical professional,” said Dr. Swafford.
When the clinic opened on the first day of school, Saundra Williams, a licensed, internal medicine physician welcomed students as director of CGLA’s health clinic. Her focus will be working with the entire CGLA community to eliminate healthcare barriers that disrupt academic achievement. “For the past 35 years, I have been practicing as a family care physician,” said Dr. Williams, “and I have experience providing care that spans the scope of family medicine. Without question, working with children was always a passion and an important part of my professional life. I am excited about having this opportunity to work with the CGLA community.”
Relative to impact, Dr. Williams referenced the research that outlines the notable, far-reaching benefits a schoolbased health clinic can have on a community. “We know that if children are sick or experiencing a healthrelated issue, they are distracted and less able to be academically engaged. Because CGLA is offering onsite, free, quality healthcare, students can address their health issues during the school day and hopefully receive interventions they allow them to remain at school. And if students can remain in school, parents do not have miss work, and employers do not have parents requesting time off.”