Access Health’s wellness centers provide health care at schools

Christine McDaniel works on a well-known R.J. Vial mainstay.
Christine McDaniel works on a well-known R.J. Vial mainstay.

Every parent knows the drill.

Their child feels sick at school, leading to the parent taking time off from work to check the student out and bring them to the doctor and the student missing important classwork and assignments.

Alleviating the number of those instances is among the goals behind two school-based wellness centers established by Access Health’s St. Charles Community Center. The centers include an onsite clinic serving J.B. Martin and R.J. Vial Elementary schools in Paradis and one serving Albert Cammon Middle and St. Rose Elementary schools in St. Rose.

Health services, including both medical and behavioral care, are provided at each for the school’s students, faculty and staff.

“It’s on-site and very convenient,” said Access Health Physician’s Assistant Christine McDaniel. “The goal is to keep them healthy and make them feel better, but also to keep them at school and in class.”

The behavioral health service is primarily provided by a social worker who offers individual and group counseling.

“We’re mainly offering the services just like a medical clinic would, but on campus. We don’t replace their primary care provider, but we offer assistance at the school,” McDaniel said.

An example she noted was a child with a headache who could be screened and given medicine before they return to class, versus the alternatives of having to be checked out by parents or simply staying in school while not feeling well all day.

Services offered at the clinics include treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, chronic disease management, complete physical exams, referrals and follow-ups, laboratory testing, immunizations, sports physicals, prescriptions and education on health and nutrition.

Students can still access medical assistance after the health center is closed for the school day.

At the beginning of each school year, parents are given the opportunity to sign consent forms which allow students to receive health care at school.

While commercial insurances and Medicaid are accepted, students are never turned away for care due to a family’s inability to pay. No co-pays are collected. Students who are patients of the School Based Wellness Center can also get their medications filled at reduced rates at local pharmacies through Access Health’s discount pharmacy program.

J.B. Martin Principal Steven Guitterrez said the wellness center has been a major boon for the school.

“Our relationship with the Wellness Center is amazing,” Guitterrez said. “This provides a great resource to our students where they have access to qualified health professionals and they don’t have to miss school to do so. This is a huge benefit to our students, their families, our teachers, and our school as a whole.

“The more students miss school for any reason, (the more detrimental it is) to their learning and performance in their classes. The Wellness Center helps to keep our students in class where they can focus on their studies. The benefits are great for the future of our students.”

 

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