MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula's Lowell Elementary School will soon have a one-of-a-kind medical clinic of its own.
Missoula County commissioners signed a contract to start building the clinic on school grounds.
The project is paid for by a $500,000 federal grant.
The clinic will be a satellite of Partnership Health Center, which provides primary care to medically under served populations.
Lowell School is in one of Missoula's poorest districts, so the clinic is expected to help a lot of people.
Stephanie Morrow is one of the parents who has worked hard with community leaders to get the clinic built here.
"It's the first of its kind in the state and we're really excited," said Morrow.
Lowell has a high rate of poverty and homelessness. Morrow thinks the clinic will be a big help to families.
The Partnership Health Clinic will provide medical and dental care to Lowell students and their immediate families. The clinic will also provide services for behavioral problems.
Payment will be based on the ability to pay.
Supporters said investing in children's health now, especially those at risk, will help youngsters develop healthy habits for a lifetime.
"So that really prevents the diseases we're seeing later in life," said Partnership director Kim Mansch. "Diabetes, heart diseases, by just implementing a healthy lifestyle at a young age."
The clinic will be built on the east side of Lowell School.
It will be designed to fit in with the Craftsman-style homes known to this historic westside neighborhood.
This type of clinic will be new for Montana, but there are clinics like this in other parts of the country.
County Commissioner Jean Curtiss says she thinks it will be a good deal for Missoula.
"Schools in Montana tend to serve as a kind of culture center," said Curtiss.
That is true with Missoula's diverse Lowell school community.