Telemedicine Brings Medical Access to St. Martin Parish Schools
The St. Martin Parish School Board is launching its first telemedicine clinic to provide easier medical access for students at rural locations. Called “Telehealth for Tots,” this program will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m. at the clinic at St. Martinville Primary School with Dr. David Broussard. The first school served by telemedicine will be Stephensville Elementary School located in lower St. Martin Parish.
Although only minutes from Morgan City and the St. Mary Parish line, Stephensville Elementary is St. Martin Parish’s farthest outlying school, making it difficult to utilize St. Martin Parish School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) – staffed medical clinics at three main school campuses in the parish. The SBHC’s serve a total of 17 schools via physical transportation by mini-bus. But, being in a remote part of the parish makes distance to these centers a difficult obstacle, particularly for schools like Stephensville Elementary. Long distance burdens the school and parents with transportation logistics and deprives the student of lost time in the classroom. Traveling by bus to the closest SBHC from Stephensville takes more than an hour.
Funded by a United Way of Acadiana PACT (Plan of Action for Community Transformation) grant as well as Lafayette General Health, Capitol One and others, Telehealth for Tots clinics can provide students access to medical care without having to leave school, eliminating the need for physical transport, and at no extra cost to students and their families. Telemedicine, utilizing telecommunications-enabled medical equipment, lets students receive a medical assessment and evaluation through an audio and visual link with the SBHC at St. Martinville Primary. Once examined, a student can be sent back to class or be instructed for further measures if necessary.
Dr. Lottie P. Beebe, Superintendent of St. Martin Schools, conveys her sincere gratitude along with members of the St. Martin Parish School Board and the district’s employees to Lafayette General Health and other partners for providing this service to students within the St. Martin Parish School System. Students in upper St. Martin Parish have had access to medical care for many years via the three school-based health centers, thus, alleviating the concern for excessive absences due to illnesses.
“The Telehealth for Tots program will provide student access to medical care in the lower portion of St. Martin Parish,” says Beebe. “It is exciting to have the opportunity to provide equitable medical services to students enrolled at Stephensville Elementary while utilizing modern technology to address distance challenges. It is our desire to have happy, healthy students attending school on a daily basis—the Telehealth for Tots program will aid us in accomplishing this goal.”
The telemedicine program got its start in Lafayette Parish schools by linking all of the public schools in the Carencro area to the school-based clinic at Carencro Middle School.
“Lafayette General Foundation is excited to partner with the St. Martin Parish School Board, Capital One, United Way of Acadiana and Cox Communications to extend our school-based telemedicine program,” says Foundation Executive Director Cian Robinson. “With successful implementation completed in Lafayette Parish in the Carencro district, the extension of our capabilities to St. Martin Parish was a natural fit. Now, students in a rural portion of the parish will have access to health care in a setting that allows for education, outreach and caregiving.”