Posted Date: 10/20/2023
CommuniHealth Services is coming to the campus of Ouachita Parish High School, providing healthcare to its students, as well as students who attend host schools and surrounding feeder schools.
The school-based health center, which is scheduled to open in January, will provide medical, dental and behavioral health services. It will have a nurse practitioner, behavioral health counselor, nurse and patient access clerk on staff.
“We are extremely happy to continue our partnership with CommuniHealth Services in providing school-based health centers on our campuses in Ouachita Parish,” said Superintendent Todd Guice. “This new location on the campus of Ouachita Parish High School will add yet another location in our district that has become such an important provider for our families.”
Among its services, the school-based health centers provide comprehensive wellness exams, immunizations, sports physicals, acute illness and injury diagnosis and treatment, lab services, prescription services, dental and oral health services and behavioral health services.
All students are eligible to receive services, even if they do not have insurance. Any payment made by Medicaid or insurance is accepted as payment in full. Students never receive a bill for services provided by the school-based health centers.
“It’s very critical,” said Ouachita Parish School Board Member Dabo Graves, who represents District F where Ouachita High School and its feeder schools are located. “Any time we do something to better these kids’ lives, make it easier for them, make them better adults, that’s what we want to do.”
Ouachita will be the third, school-based health center under the Ouachita Parish Schools umbrella with other operating sites at Riser Middle School and West Monroe High School.
There is also a CommuniHealth Clinic at the former Ransom Elementary School, located off Jonesboro Road, with all sites available for students and their families to use.
“School-based health centers keep kids in school healthy and ready to learn,” said Katie Parnell, CommuniHealth CEO. “They also provide opportunities for students to seek care when they need it and want it, which is important because sometimes our students don’t have access to healthcare or don’t have the availability to get there.”
Monica Turner, the executive assistant of the Living Well Foundation, joined Parnell on Friday on the campus of Ouachita to present a check to support efforts to bring CommuniHealth Services to the high school.
The Living Well Foundation is a non-profit public charity that was established upon the sale of Glenwood Regional Medical Center in 2006. Its goals are to enhance the quality of life and health of the citizens of Ouachita Parish and the 7 surrounding parishes and to assist in collaborative and innovative networking within the region.
“These centers provide services to our school community in the areas they are located and give our families opportunities to access health care in ways that they may have not had available to them,” Guice said. “We appreciate the Living Well Foundation for their support of this project and their continued support of the Ouachita Parish School System and our community.”
The Living Well Foundation has supported CommuniHealth Services for the past 9 years. There are school-based clinics in Ouachita, Morehouse and Union Parish. The Ouachita site will be located behind the school in the parking lot near the gymnasium. The concrete slab has already been poured, and the building will be arriving soon. The staff will spend the next few months stocking and getting it ready to serve students.
“Out here, a lot of these kids don’t have access to medical facilities, or it’s hard for parents to come way out here on their lunch break to get kids,” said Ouachita Principal Charles Wright. “Just to have a location, and provide an opportunity for a high percentage of our students to get that care and be seen on campus during school hours and not miss school, that’s big. Right now we are fighting absenteeism with students because they feel sick, but they can be counted absent get them to the clinic, and if they’re fine they can get back to class, instead of just wasting a whole day at home and hit or miss if they are going to get to see a doctor or a nurse while absent from school so it’s a team effort – medical to administration.”
CommuniHealth also has a partnership with the ULM Dental Hygiene program, and Ouachita High school will be an additional site for ULM students to do their clinical training program.
“They will screen students twice a year for routine cleanings and things like that,” Wright said. “Most of the students may not see a dentist until they get into high school, so if we can do some preventive measures before they enter the real world or just catch some things … it just goes back to having access to medical and dental. It’s a win-win,” Wright said. “I’m excited for the students here. They deserve it.”