LETTER: Ask legislators for more health centers in schools
Did you know that there are 63 School-Based Health Centers in 27 parishes in Louisiana? They are medical offices in a school, staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed behavioral health professionals. School-based health centers keep children in school by providing medical and mental health care on campuses. More than 70,000 students have access to health care through these centers. There are many benefits including reducing absenteeism and tardiness, reduction in hospital emergency care, the prevention of suicide and depression, and keeping children in school so that they can graduate. We know that 96 percent of students treated in a center RETURN to class.
We need more school-based health centers in our schools and in more parishes throughout Louisiana. Yet, today the funding for existing School Based Health Centers is in danger due to state budget cuts to healthcare.
As the president of the Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance and a health professional, I have spent countless hours working with partners across the state to get MORE health centers in our schools. Why? Because they keep students in school and parents at work. They provide Louisiana children with acute care for minor illnesses and injuries, prescriptions for medications, immunizations, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases and mental health services. Parents must give permission for their children to be treated.
Please ask your legislator to fight for School-Based Health Center funding. It’s for children and parents. I encourage you to contact your legislator today and ask him or her to restore funding for School-Based Health Centers.
Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance
Tabitha J. Washington, MHA