VISD hires longtime Victoria physician as consultant

It was a busy day for Dr. John McNeill.

At the Twin Fountains Walk-In Clinic, one of the four clinics the internal and emergency doctor operates, nurses scurried around, intermittently pausing for instruction.

As he bounced between phone calls, McNeill flipped through pages of patient data - multitasking his way through the morning.

And soon, the busy doctor may become even busier.

In March, McNeill signed an agreement with the Victoria school district placing him on a $2,000 per month retainer for his medical expertise.

Of the 23 duties included in his contract, McNeill will be required to help minimize employee and student absences due to illness.

The annual $24,000 expense for McNeill's services will help recoup costs to the district in the long run, said Victoria school district superintendent Robert Jaklich.

"He will assist us in getting workers back to work as quickly as possible," said Jaklich. "That's where we're going to be saving money."

Additionally, McNeill will provide consultation regarding the district's health handbook and protocols, prescribe automatic external defibrillators and medical oxygen when needed and conduct in-service meetings with the district's administrative staff and the health services coordinator at least twice per semester.

While the doctor will not hold office hours on any campus nor provide direct care to students, McNeill will have a hand in keeping everybody healthy, said Jaklich.

"We have 14,500 students and 16,700 people that we are responsible for on a daily basis," Jaklich said. "When a school district does not have a professional medical person on staff, it makes sense to have one available."

Jaklich, who served as superintendent at the Harlandale school district before starting at VISD last July, said he held a similar agreement with a medical professional at his former school district.

"We'll save money in being proactive," Jaklich said. "He will also assist us in workers' compensation claims."

Sitting at a barren office desk, McNeill seemed optimistic about the agreement and expanding his contributions to the education community.

"I'm just hoping we get to take the steps to keep our students and staff as healthy as possible," McNeill said. "I will do whatever they need, and anything our clinics can provide, we'll do that as well."