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PROVO — Schools are often like community centers — a gathering place for families. A unique community clinic in Provo is showing what a small, devoted group of health professionals can do to keep Utah County families healthy.
School is back in session at Provo's Dixon Middle School, where P.E. classes take to the field for a game of flag football.
In a portable unit on the school grounds is Dixon's Health Center. Nurse practitioner Julianne Fallentine can hear the kids yelling for the ball as she sees a new patient.
But you might be surprised to know the patient is not a student. "There's a need for primary health care and preventitive health care just across the board here," said Fallentine.
So, parents, kids and residents of surrounding communities are all welcome here at Intermountain Healthcare's only school-based clinic in Utah County.
Doug Philpot is the manager of the Dixon Health Center. "They (parents) know that we're here not only to take care of their kids but they can come in and see us for their needs as well," he said.
The demand for Dixon's services has been growing every day since the clinic opened over seven years ago. Fallentine said in 2009, "we'd maybe see, you know, 10 patients a day, but now I see as many as I can" every day the clinic is open.
In fact, there were 1,700 patient visits to the clinic over the past year, and almost 80 percent of the patients were uninsured.
"It is rewarding. There's not a day that I work here that I don't hear someone's story," said Fallentine.
Philpot admires Fallentine's energy and devotion to the clinic's mission. "She's truly passionate about the patients she sees," he said.
Everyone at the center has a goal of improving the overall health of Dixon's students and the communities the school serves. "Get them primary care so they don't end up with their conditions worsening and progressing," said Philpot.
With every patient they see, the staff is trying to make the difference that could change lives and even save some. "Even on the hard days, it's worth it," said Fallentine.
The health center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the school day and into the early evening one night a week for clients who don't get off work until after 5 p.m.