Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Inc. has announced that a new school-based health center will be opening on the Bastrop High School campus for the 2014 to 2015 school year. This will be the second school-based health center in Morehouse Parish. MCMC currently operates a center at the Morehouse Jr. High campus.

In a provided release, Dr. David Nordman, principal at BHS, discussed how the school is looking forward to the arrival of the new center.

"...I can tell you that the entire school is very excited about this opportunity," Nordman said, "Many of our students became accustomed to having this convenience when they were students at Morehouse Junior High, and they are well aware of the benefits from this program. We will be able to reduce absenteeism and increase student instructional time through the efforts of this program. I would like to personally say thank you to everyone involved in making this become a reality."

According to Sharon Ray, school-based health center coordinator for MCMC, the centers do not attempt to take business away from other area practitioners and actually provide information to student's regular doctors.

"Our purpose is not to take away from a regular doctor," Ray said, "We are there to help during the school day, and we actually fax treatment sheets to family doctors at the end of the school day."

Services that will be offered on campus include primary and preventative health care including, comprehensive exams and sports physicals, immunizations, health screenings, acute care for minor illness and injury and management of chronic diseases such as asthma.

When asked about the convenience that providing routine services, such as sports physicals, on-site at a school-based health center provides, Ray stated, "They are free of charge to students and parents. We can do it while they are at P.E. or an elective. It reduces the burden on parents."

In May of 2014, Ray spoke to the Enterprise about the school-based center on the MJH campus and discussed how these centers extend services to more children.

"You are able to see kids who may not have transportation to the doctor's office," said Ray.

According to Ray, the school-based center can do check-ups, catch kids up on immunizations during school hours and dispense over-the-counter medications as long as parents sign a consent form.

"A school nurse can't give out Tylenol," Ray said. "With a school-based health center, students can see a nurse practitioner with prescriptive authority. We're here, can treat them and send them back to class if they're not contagious."

The consent forms parents must sign before students can be treated at the school-based health center will be sent home during the first week of school in August. There will be no out-of-pocket expense for the parent or guardians for services provided at either SBHC site, but Medicaid and other third-party payers are billed if available.