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Local students offer health care improvement options

Students from the St. John the Baptist Parish STEM Magnet High School Program recently answered the challenge of how they would use what they are learning to positively impact health care.

The challenge was sponsored by UnitedHealthcare.

Students were asked to write an essay explaining how they would use their pathway – digital design, pharmacy or engineering – to impact health care in a positive way. Judges from Xavier University then decided the winners.

Those winning students – Christopher Taylor in digital design, Lexi St. Pierre in pharmacy and Asia Scioneaux in engineering – were presented an Apple Watch by Landis Rush, National Vice President, Advocacy and Education, Public Sector & Labor Trust for UnitedHealthcare, at a conference Oct. 17 at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans during which the students read their winning entries for a group of business leaders.

“I’m proud of our school. I’m proud of our district, and I’m very proud of our kids. Over 200 kids took part in the challenge, kids bringing forth innovative ideas to try to make a difference in the world and try to make it healthier, specifically,” STEM Magnet High School Principal Terran Perry said.

City of New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano, Superintendent Kevin George and School Board President Albert “Ali” Burl III were also on hand for the event.

“We want to thank UnitedHealthcare, Xavier’s College of Pharmacy, St. John the Baptist Schools and LSU for making this challenge possible,” Montano said.

“In creating this challenge it demonstrated that they are committed to lifting up the next generation of leaders, ensuring they’re equipped to face this rapidly changing world. In collaboration together they’ve also shown that they understand the value of public/private partnerships by allowing freedom of innovation.”

UnitedHealthcare donated $5,000 to the St. John STEM Magnet High School Program during the event.

Taylor wrote in his winning essay that the health care industry has been slow to adopt digital design and digital marketing strategies.

“The world is shifting to become more and more technologically advanced. Patient and doctors in health care can use digital marketing to make communication easier between themselves, which promotes better health. It can make communication between doctors and patients easier and it can help to make patient files more accessible,” he said.

“Videoconferencing and applications help to keep small clinics and practitioners in the loop, helping them to provide the best medicines and treatments for their clinics for every patient that seeks their treatments. Digital marketing has an impact on the way patients get information and ensures they get the best possible health care available.”

St. Pierre wrote pharmacy fulfills patient needs, plays an important part in hospitals, paves the way for new drug discoveries and provides job opportunities. Scioneaux wrote that an engineering pathway incorporates everything from bioengineering of artificial limbs and other devices to the invention and construction of new medical equipment to help patients.

Montano praised the efforts of the students and school system aimed at making sure there is a solid foundation for a career in a STEM field.