AURORA - Tucked behind Crawford Elementary School is a modest, new modular building that is making big difference for parents who are trying to keep their kids healthy.
"I didn't even have a clue it was a doctor's office," said Anna Laura Rodriguez as she sat in an exam room.
Workers at her children's elementary school told her about the Crawford Kids Clinic, which serves kids in kindergarten through eighth grade in all Aurora Public Schools.
The clinic was previously located inside Crawford Elementary but recently opened its doors in the new building, which is attracting more parents who may have previously had troubles getting their sick children to the doctor's office.
"We have parents who literally cannot leave work to bring their kids to the doctor," said Anne Taylor, who is the director of community health programs for Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.
The non-profit organization partnered with Aurora Public Schools and Aurora Mental Health to support the clinic. They serve all students, regardless of whether they have insurance or Medicaid.
"They come here and we take care of them," said Taylor.
Families who don't have either are charged a fee that is calculated on a sliding scale.
"It's a copay and it's very minimal," said Taylor. "It's $2 to $7."
Clinics like this one have been inside or adjacent to schools throughout the metro area for years. Taylor cites Denver Public Schools, Adams 12 and Adams 14 as being examples of well-developed programs. No matter the school district, the clinics have a shared purpose.
"It was recognized early on that a common community center in a community of need is the school. So it only makes sense to have health care there in the school," Taylor said. She added that Crawford and Laredo elementary, which also has a Kids Clinic, both have a high percentage of needy students who receive free or reduced lunch.
"We do feel like this is the best place for kids to be, to make sure kids stay healthy," said Taylor.
Rodriguez agrees. She and her husband are taking care of their six children who all have strep throat. She thinks the clinic will help parents get easier access to care.
"It makes a big difference because it's close to home," she said. "A lot of people don't have the transportation to drive far. But they need to get their kids seen [by a doctor]."
The Crawford Kids Clinic also provides mental health services and dental services. Parents call the clinic to set up an appointment to have their kids seen.
Taylor says getting kids healthy brings a benefit that goes far beyond the doctor's office.
"By being at the school where the kids are all the time, we keep them healthy," she said. "They stay in school. And it benefits everybody."