Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center will soon have its own space at Acadian Middle School to help students with sore throats, sniffles and other ailments that distract them from their classwork.
The hospital has provided health services once a week at the school since 2011 via its “Care Bus,” a mobile clinic supported with help from the Junior League of Lafayette.
Through a new agreement, approved by the Lafayette Parish School Board on Wednesday, the hospital will now have a room on the campus to provide health services to students for minor ailments and other health services, such as student-athlete physicals.
The Care Bus hasn’t made the rounds at Acadian Middle this school year and will likely stay off the road.
“The Care Bus is aged. It was time to come up with a different model,” said Bentley Senegal, Lourdes community outreach services director. “We were looking into possibly securing another bus or another arrangement, but we felt the on-campus model would work better there.”
A nurse practitioner will be on campus once a week as part of the partnership, Senegal said. The Care Bus saw about eight students a week, he added.
The hospital has operated a school-based health center at Northside High School, less than 3 miles away from the middle school, since 1996. The services at Acadian Middle won’t be a full-fledged health center like Northside, but there’s a possibility for services to expand in the future through telehealth services with existing staff at the Northside school-based health center, Senegal said. He added that the goal is to expand Lourdes’ telehealth services to other schools, as well.
Senegal said Lourdes chose Acadian as the site of its second school outreach based on an assessment of health needs in the community that showed the greatest need was in the 70501 and 70507 ZIP codes. Northside High is located in 70501 and Acadian Middle is located in 70507.
“It’s not far from Northside and, looking at the statistics from the School Board, there were a lot of needs there, particularly where it relates to childhood obesity, and a lot of the students there were underserved,” Senegal said.
He said some of the students, as was the case at Northside, didn’t have a primary care physician and would have no access to health care services if they weren’t offered at the school — either because the parent couldn’t get off work to take the student to a doctor or had transportation issues.
The only other school-based health center in Lafayette Parish is at Carencro Middle and is operated through a partnership between the school system and Lafayette General Medical Center. Lafayette General expanded services at Carencro Middle to Ossun Elementary, Carencro Heights Elementary, Live Oak Elementary and Carencro High are using telehealth technology. Registered nurses on other school campuses help facilitate the student’s visit with staff at Carencro Middle’s school-based center using Bluetooth-enabled medical equipment that allows the school-based health center staff see and hear what the nurse at the satellite location is seeing and hearing.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.