Wylie Children’s Medical Clinic
Providing affordable pediatric care to residents in need
By Sonia Duggan
Whether you’re a new mom or a seasoned mom, preventative medical care is a vital first step in your journey as a parent.
Over the course of the first year of your child’s life, you’ll build a trusted relationship with your baby’s doctor as they monitor and measure their progress and answer any questions you have about their care.
This routine will be repeated every two to three months until children reach their first birthday. By then, most will have been to the doctor at least four times and had approximately 18 doses of preventative vaccinations. That year is just the beginning of at least 18 years of preventative care, excluding trips to the doctor or nurse when they’re sick or injured.
Sadly, job loss, underemployment, disability, or many other reasons force some families to make the decision between paying bills, buying food and necessities, or scheduling well-child visits and immunizations.
But for those Collin County families that are struggling financially, Wylie Children’s Medical Clinic fills a void by offering quality pediatric care, fulfilling the mission of its nonprofit, Health Services of North Texas, “to work with individuals and families to help make informed decisions regarding their child’s health journey.”
In 2021, 3,183 children from Wylie, Sachse, Josephine, Garland, Lavon, and other area cities were given care for a total of 6,800 visits out of the Wylie clinic. That’s an average of 90-95 patients per week or 18-20 patients per day.
The clinic pediatrician in charge for the last 6 ½ years is Dr. Jyotsna Kuppannagari, also known to many as Dr. Jo. She is a second-generation doctor, who as a child, first witnessed the impact and respect her father, an ophthalmologist in India, had on people after he performed sight-saving cataract surgery.
“At that moment I think I made it my mission to be a physician so I can help other people,” she said.
Teri Johnson, director of marketing and communications at Health Services of North Texas, said what Dr. Jo is doing is administering “life-giving medical care” to local children.
“Because when these children have those well visits, and we detect diseases early and provide necessary medication, when they’re healthy and thriving and going to school — that’s good for the Wylie community,” Johnson said. “We can educate and equip them.”
The doctor and her husband reside in Murphy with their two boys, ages 4 and 8. As a mother, Dr. Jo said she thinks her experience helps a lot when it comes to communicating and understanding the questions and concerns mothers have regarding their children.
“All pediatrics are not the same as being the parent and figuring it out on my own,” she said. “Not everything goes by the book.”
One mother recently wrote about what a great impression Dr. Jo left on her family at their first appointment.
“You can tell she worries about the kid’s well-being,” she said, adding “and there is nothing more rewarding than having a doctor (team) you can trust.”
The two staff nurse practitioners, Veronica Teran and Bethany Ishmael, share a small office at the clinic with the doctor.
Ishmael has 17 years’ experience, including time spent working as a NICU nurse and as a school nurse, but says she tells Dr. Jo frequently that “this is the best place I’ve ever been,” adding that they “collaborate all the time” while working because they share an office.
“It’s never a one man show,” Ishmael said. “It’s a very concerted and team effort.”
Teran, a 10-year veteran of pediatric nursing, is bilingual and said she understands the struggle of some of her patients whose parents have limited English, adding, “I know where they are because I was there myself.”
The clinic is a resource for the school nurses, says Johnson, “because we communicate regularly.”
Investing in quality medical care for children in the Wylie community who need a hand up will have a “lasting impact,” she said, because the kids are healthy and attending school.
The Wylie clinic offers newborn care, pediatric immunizations, pediatric urgent care, pediatric sick visits, sports physicals, and pediatric well-visits.
If a procedure is outside the scope of what the clinic can provide, Johnson says “we will do everything we can to connect that child to the appropriate care.”
For parents requesting ADHD care for their child, Dr. Jo does provide those services, says Johnson, after a thorough evaluation.
One mother, who lived in Wylie and now travels from Irving for her son’s visits, wrote that Dr. Jo was an “amazing doctor,” adding “she always listens and works with me to figure out what’s best for my son’s ADHD and how to cope with it, instead of just writing a prescription and sending us on our way.”
The clinic doesn’t just dispense medicine. For those new moms unprepared for motherhood, there is a supply room filled with formula, wipes, diapers, creams, some clothes, and unique one-of-a-kind baby quilts, donated by local quilters.
If you’re wondering if your child would qualify for care, multiple types of insurance are accepted as well as Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP. The clinic offers a sliding fee scale discount schedule and a $35 flat fee for those who are 100% below poverty level. The office visit fee includes all labs and injectables, says Johnson, which are completed onsite.
The sliding fee scale discount is updated annually on April 1, states HSNTX, based on income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Johnson stressed that “there are no requirements to getting the care your child needs” at the clinic.
“If you have your Blue Cross Blue Shield, come we want to see you,” she said. “If you have Medicaid, come we want to see you. If you don’t have a dime to your name, come we are going to take care of you. If you have no health insurance, come we’re going take care of you.”
While the clinic does provide the required childhood vaccines, Johnson says sometimes there’s a misunderstanding about the services they offer.
“Visits involve well-checks,” she said, “to determine what is missing and what they need.”
Originally opened as the Wylie branch of Plano Medical Clinic in 2011, the clinic provided care to the uninsured until 2014 when the clinic board approached Health Services of North Texas and asked them to take over operations.
They merged with Health Services of North Texas in April 2014. Aside from the Wylie Children’s Medical Clinic, the nonprofit operates four Health Services of North Texas clinics in Denton and one in Plano. The Plano location offers pediatrics, family practice, infectious disease care, behavioral health, and an on-site lab and pharmacy.
According to healthservicesntx.org, the nonprofit “is dedicated to providing medical care for the entire family, from newborns to seniors, including prenatal care, counseling services, chronic and infectious disease care management, and prescription assistance programs.”
Providing nonprofit medical services to residents requires an organization with a vision for a healthy community as well as diverse funding to make it all work. Donors provide a large portion of funding for all the clinics, and Johnson said the Wylie clinic needs local donors who want to “contribute to the health of their children, lifting them up out of poverty.”
“Grant funds and individual donations bridge the gap between what a patient can afford to pay and what it costs to provide the care,” Johnson said. “Many of our patients can only afford to pay the nominal fee based on their income and family size.”
The affordable care and top-notch services provided is what brought Ana, a single mother, and her son, Oscar, to the clinic. Ana remembered the care that her younger brother received from the former Plano Children’s Medical Clinic when he was little, and for her, having a low-cost option for her son was important.
“I just signed up my son for health insurance but that doesn’t kick in until next year,” Ana said. “Right now, I’m on the sliding scale, and it’s pretty affordable. They work with you.” Ana added. “[Just recently] they let me make one payment and then make the other payment later.”
Dr. Jo said she loves helping people and that’s what has kept her at the clinic for the past 6 ½ years.
“When a person doesn’t have insurance and they’re not able to get the care,” she said. “That’s when it makes me feel like I’m really helping the people who need help. That’s what makes me happy. Not just providing the medical care but everything else on top of it.”
Donate $25 per month and make a difference in the health of a child in need.
Wylie Children’s Medical Clinic, 303 S. Hwy 78, Wylie, TX 75098, 972-801-9689