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      Gwinn Area Schools open long-awaited clinic

      The facility may be small, but school officials say it's a big deal to have their very own clinic. High school and middle school Gwinn students now have access to medical treatment from two nurse practitioners at their fingertips.

      With the help of the Marquette County Health Department, the schools received funding for the long-awaited addition. They now join some 100 Michigan schools with state funding for clinics.

      "They contacted us and said we can not only get a school nurse but a nurse practitioner," said Gwinn Area Community Schools Superintendent, Michael Maino.

      The difference between the two is significant. Practitioners can extend services beyond the typical nurse.

      "It will now provide emergency services; they can do physicals for our students," Maino said. "Students can come down here during the day if they're sick, if they have headaches; we now have a place for students to go."

      Students with chronic illnesses can also use the facility. Officials say it saves parents time and money by keeping them in school on sick days. The schools received $175,000 of state funding to open the facility. And although the clinic isn't free of charge, the department will also work with families to provide the appropriate health care.

      "One of our missions is to make sure that kids are hooked up with insurance if they're eligible," said Dr. Teresa Frankovich, medical director at the Marquette County Health Department. "There are a lot of families who don't realize that their children would qualify for health insurance programs, and we can help them with that."

      But beyond having an extra resource, officials say the comfort of knowing help is near if anything should happen is what parents really want.

      "We know kids who are healthy learn better, and that's the goal of this," Frankovich said.