As the school year begins and many uncertainties remain due to the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is sure – St. Charles Parish public school students will have the benefit of school-based health centers.
In addition to operating two local community health centers, Access Health Louisiana runs two school-based health centers in St. Charles Parish – the Albert Cammon Wellness Center in St. Rose, which services the students of Albert Cammon Middle and St. Rose Elementary School, and the J.B. Martin/R.J. Vial Wellness Center in Paradis, which services the staff and students at those two schools.
The health system also provides health services for students at Luling Elementary at its Luling clinic location, located at 843 Milling Avenue.
“Two years ago, the school district put a gate in the fence dividing the school property and clinic property,” AHL Director of Outreach and Development Chenier Reynolds-Montz said. “Ever since, students are escorted to and from the clinic by school and clinic staff to receive primary care and behavioral health services.”
The school clinics provide primary care services, including well checks, immunizations, sports physicals, behavioral health offerings and acute and diagnostic services.
“We make an impact on these students lives by providing mental health and medical services while still allowing them to maintain attendance at school. Keeping them healthy and in class is our goal,” Michelle Babin, a family nurse practitioner at the J.B. Martin/R.J. Vial Wellness Center said. “It is important to have a consent on file for the wellness center, even if you feel you won’t need or use our services. There is always the chance that your child may become sick or injured while at school. The consent form saves time and allows your child to get the treatment they need much quicker.”
Lauren Ellis, a family nurse practitioner at the Albert Cammon Wellness Center, agreed.
“Children with completed consents on file can receive care without the inconvenience of their parents having to leave work and come to the school. In these difficult times, we are doing everything to make health care easy,” she said. “The Wellness Center at Albert Cammon Middle and St. Rose Elementary provides a safe environment for management of injuries and illnesses as well as preventative care such as physicals and immunizations. Our staff includes a nurse practitioner, medical assistant and licensed clinical social worker to treat to whole student.”
This year the school-based health centers will also be offering COVID vaccines.
“Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for children ages 12 and up,” Reynolds-Montz said. “Parental permission must be given before a COVID vaccine is administered.”
Arolyn Honor, a nurse and the School Nurse Supervisor of the St. Charles School District, said it has been an honor and pleasure to work with AHL staff members in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“We partnered last year to provide testing for our students and staff, as well as vaccine opportunities,” she said. “The partnership continues to grow as we continue our commitment in mitigating the spread of COVID -19 in our schools and community.”
Parents never pay a co-pay for any services, Reynolds-Montz said.
“If a student has commercial insurance or Medicaid, we bill the insurance,” she said. “If a student is uninsured, they are still seen in our clinics.”
For more information on AHL, visit www.accesshealthla.org.