The Mansfield School Board and Mercy Clinic earlier this month agreed to enter into a three-year lease agreement to continue service at Mansfield’s school-based wellness center.
The School Board voted in March to terminate its contract with Mercy, giving the provider 90 days notice. In April, the board voted unanimously not to accept a proposed Wellness Center operating contract for physical health care from Mercy Clinic Fort Smith, which has operated the center at 100 N. Walnut Ave. since its September opening.
Healthy Connections, which operates a school-based clinic at Acorn School, a college-based clinic in DeQueen, as well as clinics in Mena and Mount Ida, was one of several providers, including Mercy Clinic, that expressed interest in serving the Mansfield Wellness Center.
On July 1, the Mansfield School Board held a special meeting in which the board and Mercy Clinic signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a three-year lease agreement for Mercy to continue providing service at the clinic.
Mansfield Superintendent Robin Ross said he was glad to see the care of students and teachers regarded as a priority in the new agreement.
"They’re going to make an effort to fulfill that part of the MOU," Ross said. "I feel better about it than I did."
In a news release issued Thursday, Mercy announced its agreement with Mansfield Public Schools, stating that the clinic will continue to offer health care to both students and community members.
"Mercy is pleased to have offered health-care services for more than 20 years," Mercy Clinic President Cole Goodman stated in the release. "Having the clinic located inside the school has proven to offer a comfortable, convenient location to both the community and students."
Among changes in the new agreement is the inclusion of a student-specific waiting room and management personnel changes. The rest of the agreement largely is the same as the previous one, Ross said.
"It’s a three-year deal, but we evaluate it after each year," he said. "In other words, you’re obligated three years at a time."
A potential deal with Healthy Connections or any other health-care provider is no longer part of the picture now that the School Board and Mercy Clinic have reached an agreement, Ross said.
"We’re looking forward to working with them," Ross said. "We’re hoping to start the new year off on the right foot with them and make this partnership work."