Nov. 21—Nearly a decade ago, when planning for the new Stratton Elementary School began, the community was asked what they'd like to see in the new school.
Among the top requests from East Beckley residents was for a health clinic inside the school that would be open to students, staff and the community.
Now, that request has become a reality.
Run by AccessHealth, the clinic officially opened the second week in November and is seeing patients.
Accessible through its own entrance just to the right of the school's main entrance, the clinic is open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made by calling 304-252-8555.
The clinic is open to the community even on days when the school is closed, though it observes all major holidays.
Although AccessHealth runs other school-based health clinics in Raleigh County Schools, the health clinic at Stratton Elementary is unique for many reasons.
The first is that while other schools have converted unused classroom space or vacant offices into clinic space, the area at Stratton was specifically designed and built to serve as a clinic for the community. It has two exam rooms, a lab area, a nurses' station and other amenities of a small clinic.
Holly Tonelli, the Family Nurse Practitioner at the clinic, said a few patients have stopped in since opening, and the clinic staff is hoping to see more as word spreads. Tonelli's qualifications include NHA, MSN ARPN and FNP-BF. She is nationally board certified and specializes in family practice and pediatrics.
Working alongside Tonelli are Brittany Weaver, an LPN, and Shannon Hansford (LGSW), a social worker who will provide behavior health services at the clinic.
Tonelli said it was because of school-based clinics that she chose to be a nurse in the first place.
"I had an experience where when I went to high school, we had a school-based nurse practitioner, and that was one reason I wanted to be a nurse practitioner," she said. "So it's really cool to kind of come full circle and be able to provide care to the students and the school."
Tonelli said they've already heard several teachers and parents remark at the convenience of the school clinic.
Teachers can walk in during breaks in their school day for sick visits or to get immunizations. Students and teachers can also be assessed, diagnosed and prescribed treatment without leaving school grounds.
Tonelli said they can treat less severe ailments on site and get the student or teacher back in the classroom.
Just like any other clinic, parents' permission and other documentation are required before a child can be seen.
The second unique feature of the clinic is that it's open to the community, not just the occupants of the school.
Ebony Harvey, the receptionist at the Stratton clinic, said she's from Beckley and has been looking for a job where she could work with kids and the community.
"I originally wanted to work with kids and being able to be here and still service them. It's a good thing. It's a good feeling," Harvey said. "And to know that the community has a clinic right here, so if they needed to walk or they didn't have someone to take them anywhere else, they could still come here."
Tonelli said she, Harvey, Hansford and Weaver will be the faces people regularly see when they go to the clinic, which she hopes will help foster a good relationship with the school and the community.
"We're just here to serve," Tonelli said. "We're here to serve everybody ... We're excited to be part of the community and take care of their needs."