I am a Registered Nurse who works for CHRISTUS CLA at the school-based health center located at Natchitoches Central High School. We serve all of the students in grades 9-12 at the school.
Since 2003, CHRISTUS SBHC has served our students in Natchitoches Parish with compassion and commitment. The SBHC has provided countless preventative programs, comprehensive physicals, and immunizations that target our rural community needs. We have also provided medical and behavioral health services to our chronically ill students that would not have the opportunity to receive care due to their limited resources and poverty stricken population.
In my opinion, our school could not function without the assistance of our School-Based Health Center. We have increased the amount of students in this school who had all of their required vaccines from <40% of the student body when opened in 2003 to 97% of the student body in 2017.
For the School year 2016-2017, so far, we have performed 2135 visits on students at our school. Of those visits, 122 were for Physicals, 352 were for vaccine administration, and 588 were for mental health visits. The other visits were for simple routine care for headaches, abdominal pain, injuries, asthma, etc. Without the help from LDH funds, we would not be able to do many of these things that are beneficial for our students because they are unable to get the care elsewhere. We also give daily medications for ADHD that the students’ have orders from their Primary Care Dr. to have given at school. We monitor our Diabetics on a daily basis as well in supervising them in checking their blood sugar before lunch and as needed during the day. These are another 510 visits that are not documented on in our electronic medical record.
We also work with many outside agencies and programs to provide extra health education to the students at our school. During this school year, we have partnered with the Louisiana Pre-Diabetes Prevention Program to screen 170 students for Diabetes. Of these 170 students, 83 of these students participated in the program throughout the school year. During the school year, they had nutrition and physical activity education provided at six different times. During our initial screenings of this school year, we found one student who had a Hemoglobin A1C of 9.2 (normal 4.3-6) which was considered to be diabetic range. We assisted this student and her parents in getting in to her Primary Care Dr. who in turn sent the student to a Pediatric Endocrinologist in Shreveport. With us working with this student throughout the school year, she has seen a reduction of her Hemoglobin A1C to 6.2 in March of 2017 and she has lost 14 pounds and 4 pants sizes. These are the stories that we work for on a daily basis.
It is vital that funding for school-based health centers be protected from cuts.
1. If cut, the school system is left to hope their students can manage without the care the health centers provide.
2. It is well understood by these schools that they do not have enough money to staff a licensed therapist or nurse to provide care. WE save the children this state desperately wants to see do well.
It is simple. The state wants to save money, so the idea is to cut our funding. However, please know that we are already saving state dollars by keeping these children out of the hospitals, off the streets, and in the classroom.
We are asking everyone to make a call today to members of the Senate Finance committee and tell them to restore funding to our School-Based Health Centers. We encourage you to also contact your Senators (not on the Finance Committee) and House Representatives to let them know how important SBHCs are to the future of Louisiana and that we must have our funding restored.
The Senate legislative line is 225-342-2040.
The House legislative line is 225-342-6945.
You may also call the Secretary of the Department of Health, Rebekah Gee, at 225-342-9503 to let her know she must save our SBHCs!
Please help us in advocating for the School-Based Health Centers in our parish (NCHS, Lakeview, Marthaville and Cloutierville). We appreciate any and all that you will do to help us in this battle.
Ashley Sesvold, RN
The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.