Medical clinic being built at Meridian Elementary

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) -- Meridian Elementary is the poorest school in the state's largest school district.

It's also the location of an innovative project to improve student health and reduce absenteeism. A medical clinic is being built right on the school grounds.

"The idea is to provide health care services more immediately for kids who maybe wouldn't have access to it," said Eric Exline, Meridian School District spokesman, "or maybe they don't get the services as quickly as would be beneficial."

The Meridian School District is partnering with the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, a non-profit group that trains medical professionals and will operate the clinic, which also hopes to serve other nearby schools.

The school district is providing the building and coordinating construction work, most of it donated services.

Community fund raising efforts have generated $175,000 for start up costs but another $25,000 is needed.

"The way it's funded long term is once we get significant number of children coming in the door, many of them will have medicaid or insurance and that will fund the program," said Julia Robinson with the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho.

How many kids will they be seeing?

"We think 2,000 a year," Robinson said.

The medical clinic is scheduled to open in March and when that happens it will be the first in-school clinic in the state of Idaho.

And it's coming at a time when the percentage of Idaho children living in poverty stands at 22 percent, up from 13 percent five years ago, according to the website health