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|Medical center returns health clinic money|
St. Francis Regional Medical Center will return $30,000 to Living Well Foundation and the Ouachita Parish Police Jury since the hospital was unable to start a school-based health clinic in eastern Ouachita this year.
Earlier this year, the police jury and the foundation each agreed to put up $30,000 annually for 10 years to establish a clinic at a school in eastern Ouachita Parish.
When Glenwood Regional Medical Center was sold to IASIS Healthcare in 2007, the police jury received $4.1 million as a result of the sale because the hospital service district that owned Glenwood's assets was created by the police jury years ago.
With proceeds from the sale of Glenwood in hand, the police jury agreed to fund three school-based health clinics in eastern Ouachita with a portion of the Glenwood money.
Living Well Foundation, which was created to administer a bulk of the money generated by the sale of Glenwood, also agreed to put up money for the three school-based health clinics.
St. Francis Medical Center agreed to sponsor a school-based clinic.
However, parish treasurer Brad Cammack said Monday the hospital was unable to start a new school-based health clinic due to cuts in state funding the Legislature approved during its Regular Session earlier this year.
"During 2009, St. Francis did try to get a clinic started on the east side of the parish," Cammack said. "Unfortunately state funding was cut."
Living Well Foundation requested that the money St. Francis received be returned, Cammack said. When another project becomes available, the money St. Francis returned can be rededicated to that project, he said.
Richwood High School was next in line to have a school-based health clinic established on its campus.
Currently, Ouachita Parish Schools has two school-based health clinics. One is located at Riser Middle School, and the other one is housed at West Monroe High School.
Police juror Mack Calhoun said he's a big fan of school-based health clinics and wants to see more clinics established in schools in eastern Ouachita.
"Before we did this (in western Ouachita) you couldn't get into the emergency room at Glenwood because there would be dozens of children there," Calhoun said. "Plus, the absenteeism was just terrible, but now there's hardly any children who go to the hospital. The nurses and nurse practitioners take care of those children. I'm high on those clinics. I think it's a great thing, and I'm excited the east side will have the same thing."
The intended purpose of school-based health clinics is to provide basic health services to children who may not have insurance and thus, are unable to receive adequate health care in some cases.
Wendy Cranford, director of the Riser clinic, said the health clinic at her school has helped reduce Riser's absenteeism by 40 percent because students are now healthier and do not miss as many school days due to illness.