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Healthy Bodies Equal Healthy Minds

With much fanfare, the newly remodeled school based health center at John Ehret High School opened last month. The clinic had been previously housed in a temporary building and was in desperate need of repair.
Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, school officials were able to renovate the old “caretakers” cottage located on the campus.

“This is a wonderful facility to go with the wonderful services,” said principal Maria Landry. “It is so much a part of what helps our school succeed. Healthy students are the ones who do well in class.”

The center, a medical home to some 1,900 students on one of the largest campuses in the region, provides a wide range of services including primary medical care, mental and behavioral health care, health education and promotion, counseling, and nutrition education.

Partnering with the district to support the center are Ochsner Health Systems, Baptist Community Ministries and the Office of Public Health.

Dr. Pat Quinlan, executive director of the Ochsner Center for Community Wellness and Health Policy, says that healthy bodies equal healthy minds.

“Students have to have a prepared body to have a prepared mind,” Quinlan said. “We at Ochsner recognize that the future of our communities rest in the hands of our youth.”

On a typical day at Ehret High’s School-Based Health Center, the staff can see on average about 20-25 students each school day. One of the most common student ailments treated by the health center is asthma. Center staff members have responded to student asthma attacks, diagnosed students with the condition, and helped students procure the proper asthma medication.

Other conditions that the health center staff has treated include type 1 diabetes, hyperglycemic episodes, seizures, and sickle cell anemia. The School-Based Health Center prevents, on average, at least one emergency room visit a day. The health center not only provides vaccinations, but performs many types of health screenings to include diabetes, hypertension, anemia, and asthma.

Angie Ruiz, director of the health centers, said by having these centers at the schools, students can be treated quickly and return to class, thereby lowering the check out rate.

“Besides keeping healthy kids in the classroom, these centers benefit both parents and businesses,” said Ruiz. “By caring for the students on-site, parents don’t have to leave work and lose valuable income to take their child to the doctor and businesses don’t experience lost productivity.”

JPPSS has health centers at four other campuses – Butler Elementary, Riverdale High, Bonnabel Magnet Academy, and West Jefferson High School.