A clinic built exclusively for Akron Public Schools employees and their dependents is now open.

Akron Public Schools (APS), along with Paladina Health and Oswald Companies, hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the clinic at 400 W. Market St.

The Paladina Health clinic, which cost the district about $300,000 to build, was meant to provide quick, accessible supplementary health-care options to those who qualify for the district's health insurance. The program does not replace the district's health insurance plan, and it is free of charge to employees.

Paladina physicians offer several perks, including having fewer patients than a typical doctor, options for longer appointment times and round-the-clock phone access for urgent needs.

So far, about 600 people have signed up for the program since it began last year. There is another Paladina clinic on White Pond Drive that was being used for the program before the new clinic opened, but the district wanted to build a more central location for its employees.

The new clinic, which is in the same building as the I Promise School, is only for APS employees and their families. It is one of six Paladina offices in Ohio, and it is the only one in the state for use exclusively by a school district.

District Treasurer Ryan Pendleton said the primary goal of the program is to improve the health and welfare of employees. That, in turn, could also drive down the district's annual health insurance cost of $50 million in the long run if patients — especially those with chronic conditions — see Paladina physicians for regular wellness checks, Pendleton added.

Oswald Companies helped facilitate the partnership between Paladina Health and APS.

During the open house, leaders praised the clinic for offering broader access to healthcare for APS employees.

“Paladina Health is dedicated to improving patient outcomes, earning the trust of APS educators, and growing this office into a vibrant, thriving health and wellness hub that will serve as a national model,” Paladina Health CEO Chris Miller said in a prepared statement. “This location exemplifies an unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of Akron educators, through the collaboration and innovation of Akron Public Schools, Oswald Companies and Paladina Health, and for that we could not be prouder.”

Theresa Cottom-Bennett can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.