LITTLE ROCK – Activity has returned to the site of Little Rock’s Franklin Elementary School with the opening of the Healthy Connections clinic on site.
The clinic, which is open 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday is located at 1701 S. Harrison St. This is near the front of the former Franklin Elementary School. Healthy Connections will provide primary care and family medicine for patients of all ages with Chris Hopkinson, MD, and Christina Downes, APRN.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Healthy Connections will accept Medicaid, ARKids 1st, Medicare and most other health insurance. There is also a sliding-fee scale for patients without insurance who qualify, based on the total income of persons living in the household.
Franklin Elementary was dedicated in 1949 in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Little Rock and was named to honor Benjamin Franklin. Its two-level design gradually was extended to four levels with additions in 1954 and 1989. The school was closed in 2016 as part of the Little Rock School District’s downsizing amid reports of declining enrollment. Community Health Centers of Arkansas bought the property in 2017.
The opening of the clinic is the first stage of CHCA’s vision of the Franklin Community Health Complex, which is expected to bring the community an array of programs essential to building community health. Its mission is to bring health education and healthcare access to the community. This begins with the Healthy Connections clinic, which was chosen by CHCA in 2018 as the healthcare provider.
“The Franklin project is really the culmination of everything we’ve done everywhere else in Arkansas,” said Healthy Connections CEO Tony Calandro. “There is a significant need in the patient population that surrounds the Franklin school. When you look at that patient population, you’re looking at patients who have not been able to access quality, affordable healthcare.”
Healthy Connections, which is based in Mena but has clinics in Hot Springs, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mount Ida, and De Queen, strives to fill the healthcare access gaps in Arkansas. Since it’s founding in 1998 as a home-visiting program, Healthy Connections has provided much-needed health, dental and social services to families from nearly every lifestyle.
“The fact that this is something a bit different, and a bit new, is really exciting,” Dr. Hopkinson said. “I think that the vision of a health complex that blends education, primary care, behavioral health, and other health-related services has the potential to be really impactful in this community,” he said.
Healthy Connections is a Mena-based nonprofit which opened in 1998 as a home-visiting program. Primary Care health clinics now stretch from De Queen to Little Rock and help provide care where there are disparities in healthcare access. Healthy Connections also offers specialties, including Behavioral Health, Dentistry, Pediatrics, Podiatry, Cardiology, Chiropractic, and Women’s Health, depending on location.
Learn more about the Franklin Community Health Center at www.healthy-connections.org/franklin.