Skyra Rideaux, new executive director of Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, talks about job, community _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Skyra Rideaux, the new executive director of the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, pictured in her office on Tuesday June 30, 2015.

OCCUPATION: Executive director of the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic

AGE: 29

HOMETOWN: Carencro

Skyra Rideaux is the new executive director of the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, a nonprofit clinic that provides health services to the working uninsured in Lafayette Parish. Through partnerships with LSU Health’s School of Dentistry, the clinic also provides dental care and operates a community pharmacy with the support of local partners that provides prescriptions to those in need in the seven-parish area of Lafayette, Evangeline, Acadia, St. Martin, Iberia, St. Landry and Vermilion. A U.S. Navy veteran and Carencro native, Rideaux sat down with The Acadiana Advocate to discuss her work at the clinic and her decision to move back to the Lafayette area.

Why did you decide to move back to this area?

I was one of those people out of high school who said, “I’m leaving here, and I’m never coming back.” So, I joined the Navy. My first tour was in Japan. I lived there for three years, and I loved it. It was a great experience. Then I moved to San Diego for a few years and that was great, too, but it came to a point that Lafayette was drawing me back home. So, I came back and got a degree in public relations from UL (Lafayette). My job in the Navy was a bomb builder. It’s completely on the other end of the spectrum of what I do now, but I knew I wanted to come home and be a part of my community. I grew up on St. Ann Street across from the elementary school. Both of my grandmothers lived on that street. That’s where I played. That’s where I grew up. A lot of people from those areas never really get out. I’m the first generation to graduate on both sides of my family. It’s important to me.

What do you think the community may be surprised to know about the clinic?

People may be surprised to know that we only provide services to the working uninsured in Lafayette. A lot of people don’t know that the clinic exists or they probably think that we’re like other clinics in Lafayette and work with the indigent. We only provide services for those people who are working and fall between the cracks of — they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but they don’t make enough to pay deductible for ACA or any of the premiums for other policies. We’re like a safety net for them.

Has the Affordable Care Act had any impact on the clinic — such as a decrease in patients seeking care?

It hasn’t at all because they can’t really afford it as it stands right now. They come here, and we provide our services for free. We want to make sure that they don’t have to worry about anything — their health, missing work or anything like that. So, all our clinic service hours are at night. After work they can come here and get seen by the doctor and stay healthy for their families.

Have you seen an increase in patient need since ACA?

It’s pretty much stayed level, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of people may not know that we exist and provide services for the working uninsured. It’s remained level, but my goal is to increase that drastically.

What are some of your goals as director?

There’s a real growing need and concern about diabetes management. People are taking medication and don’t know how to manage their medication and their diet. We’re partnering with a doctoral student at UL (Lafayette) and creating a program. There’s a real need for the communities we serve in this area. We’re looking to expand a lot of the services we offer and maybe implement new programs. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I’m very excited to get started.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills