Our stories: Education and health care in one easy location

Kids Health Connection has really connected with Maria Alcala and her family. For the busy mother of four, it's a comfort to know all her kids can get excellent health care in an unusually convenient place while she's working as a day care provider.

Supported in part by Providence Medford Medical Center, Kids Health Connection staffs five school-based clinics in Jackson County with registered nurses, nurse practitioners and a mental health counselor. The primary and preventive care given in these clinics is the only health care many children from underserved families receive. With care offered at school, low-income parents needn't miss work to take children to a doctor's office.

"I don't lose any time at my job, which is so important - but my kids are very important to me, too," Maria says. Of the clinic staff at Phoenix Elementary School, she notes, "Oh, they are so nice, so flexible ... and they are so very friendly."

Kids Health Connection provides vision, hearing and dental screenings; immunizations; various health exams; and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. The clinics serve not only students of the five schools but also their siblings ages 2 to 18 who don't attend the schools. Kids Health Connection is a program of the nonprofit La Clinica.