Alexandria, Louisiana, March 5, 2019 – As part of National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, CHRISTUS Central Louisiana paid tribute to the heroic efforts of their school-based health center (SBHC) teams during a special breakfast celebration and honored those celebrating 20 years of service in their communities.
Jo Ann Derbonne, RN, BHA, who has been the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Health System Director of SBHC efforts since the inception, said she still feels inspired by the energy and passion shown by the caregivers and Associates leading these programs across Central Louisiana.
“When we started, we did not truly know if these programs would last even a single year,” said Derbonne. “To see them all still going is amazing, and to be able to recognize this committed group celebrating 20 years of service is very special.”
CHRISTUS Central Louisiana operates 17 SBHC across five Louisiana parishes. This year, leaders honored the programs at Jena High School, Tioga Junior High School and Pineville Junior High School – all founded in 1998.
“We hosted all 17 of the teams for a breakfast and program,” said Derbonne. “State leadership within SBHC were on hand for this special presentation. We recognized those receiving awards and enjoyed an inspirational presentation. These teams are the unsung heroes of our educational and health communities and they deserved this honor.”
The month of February is set aside as a time to recognize School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, to celebrate the successes of the program and to raise awareness about how these programs are revolutionizing the way children and adolescents access health care services. The premise of SBHCs is to place critically needed services such as medical and behavioral health care directly in schools so that young people, no matter their zip code, have equal opportunity to learn and grow.
The foremost goal of SBHC is to offer preventive health services like physicals and immunizations. They seek to keep kids healthy, in school and on track. Derbonne describes SBHC as playing a pivotal role in Central Louisiana – and playing an indelible role in her own career.
“I am retiring in April, and this program has been so rewarding to me personally,” said Derbonne. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I am not involved in patient care, but the stories that are shared with me never cease to amaze me. These centers have changed the path of students’ lives. From the day the first one opened through today, I have seen absenteeism rates, teen pregnancy rates and other sobering statistics go down due in part to the dedication and hard work of every member of these programs. They serve those who fall through the gaps in health care services – and we are seeing the difference that can be made. In fact, we are even seeing the children of some of our very first SBHC patients come through the same program that was started years ago. To see life be impacted like that, to help that many children – is something truly special.”
The Office of Public Health manages 63 SBHCs in 28 parishes across Louisiana. This allows more than 71,000 students the opportunity, with a signed consent form, to receive medical and behavioral health services at school. To learn more about Louisiana’s School-Based Health Centers, visit PartnersforFamilyHealth.org/SBHC. To find detailed information about the Adolescent School Health Program, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website.
# # #
At CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini, we deliver a complete healing experience that respects the individual. We serve our communities with dignity. And, with a good deal of admiration. CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini is located in Alexandria Louisiana. We are a community 1,600 strong, with more than 325 physicians providing individualized care. Sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Houston and San Antonio and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, our mission is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to every individual we serve.