St. John Public Schools opening 3 campus health clinics

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

RESERVE — School-age children miss millions of hours of class time due to illness every year. Parents then miss millions of work hours to care for them and arrange doctors visits.

The St. John the Baptist Parish school system is trying to reduce those hours for students and parents and make seeing a doctor just a little easier.

Teche Action Clinic, which already operates a pair of health clinics in the parish, will establish clinics for students and faculty on the campuses at West St. John Elementary, LaPlace Elementary and East St. John High.

Students and faculty at those schools, who must pre-enroll, will be able to receive complete physicals, blood screenings, scoliosis evaluations, eye exams and immunizations.

Those students and teachers then will be able to see an on-site medical professional when illnesses do occur. The cost for services will be on a sliding scale based on a family’s income. Medicaid will be accepted.

The goal is to keep students learning while also offering needed health care to the children in the parish.

“We are proud to team up with Teche Action Clinic to offer this service to our students and staff,” said schools superintendent Kevin George. “Our goal with these clinics is to keep our students in the classroom so they have a greater chance at success, while also making it convenient for parents to get their children the professional health care services they deserve. This is just one more initiative that makes St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools a great place for families.”

Teche Action Clinic, a private, non-profit health care company, has operated a similar clinic in a St. Mary Parish school and runs several care facilities throughout the region. Company CEO Dr. Gary Wiltz said the group applied for the grant several years ago and just received funding.

“We went through the first round and didn’t get the funding, but our application was very strong,” Wiltz said. “This time, when the funding became available, we got the award for three clinics. It’s one more resource for communities. The reason the grant scored so high is because the need there is so great.”

Teche Action Clinic has established the clinics in modular buildings on each of the campuses with physicians’ assistants and/or nurse practitioners on hand to provide services. Parents must submit written permission at the beginning of the school year to allow their children to receive screenings and treatment.

The clinics also will have a mental health professional on staff.

“Adolescents, a lot of time, have issues with bullying and risky behaviors,” Wiltz said. “We will be available to deal with that.”

Wiltz stressed that the clinics are not designed to replace primary care physicians

“The advantage is that we will be on-site,” he said. “With these clinics in place, we have been able to decrease absenteeism.”

“Obviously the goal is to reduce absenteeism,” said St. John Schools Communications Specialist Jennifer Boquet. “Any time we can provide heath care for our students, it’s a good thing. It’s great to be able to do this.”