But a new partnership among the advisory board, Variety Care and school board member Laura Massenat got the project back on track, he said.
“I don't think this would have gotten anywhere — just as it has in the past — but for Laura really doing a fine job in articulating our needs,” Rowland said.
Variety Care officials toured the boiler room, which had been suggested as a clinic site when the original clinic closed in 2009. The space was deemed suitable for a clinic, Rowland said.
The previous clinic was a modular building, which was left rotting behind the school will be torn down during MAPS renovations.
The construction timeline is uncertain for now, Rowland said. The clinic likely will open after a few months but hopefully in less than a year, he said.
The sooner, the better.
“These kids have little if any help at home,” Rowland said. “They have, for all intents and purposes, been relegated and disregarded to Emerson. They've been forgotten.”
The clinic will boost attendance, Principal Sherry Kishore said.
Many students have state-provided health care, but many don't have transportation or time to go to a doctor, Kishore said.
Some end up walking to St. Anthony's Hospital a few blocks away, Kishore said. By the time they get through the emergency room, come back to school and drop off their children, students miss most of the school day, she said. For some, it's too much time out of school.
“The girls don't go back to the doctor,” Kishore said. “We have pregnant girls who have never really seen the doctor.”
Karla Rodriguez, a junior, takes her son to a pediatrician at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She said she's missed school many times for checkups or emergency visits for her boy, Izack Perez, 1.
Earlier this month, Rodriguez was preparing for her end-of-instruction English exam, a test mandated for all Oklahoma seniors to pass before they can earn their high school diplomas. Then Izack got sick and needed to see the doctor.
She missed the testing window and now has to wait for the next time later this year.
“I was really trying, but it just went to nothing,” she said.
While she doesn't mind taking time off to take care of Izack's health, she said she doesn't go to the doctor for herself.
“I don't really go home when I'm sick because I have to miss because of him,” Rodriguez said. “That's one of the reasons I don't go.”
She said she's hopeful that the new clinic will allow her to take care of her health, as well as her son's.