School based health centers helping local students

School based health centers have been helping some Southwest Louisiana school students for the last 11 years. They're continuing to progress and will hopefully expand to even more schools. KPLC'S Laila Morcos has more on what parents need to know to make sure their kids get the healthcare they need.

Brittney Nelson is a standout 9th grader at Washington Marion high school.  Her favorite subject, "I like biology," she says.  And when she's not cracking open the books, she's playing sports. The 14 year old has even participated in the Junior Olympics three times, a0 pretty amazing feat since she has diabetes.

Brittney was diagnosed in 2nd grade. "Nauseated, throw up a lot, pass out. I couldn't participate with other students."

Brittney has always had help managing her diabetes in school, which helped her mom Kimberly keep working. "Sometimes she may have a sick day and if her sugar is running low, I don't have to rush over here. The nurses call me. "

Now, Brittney visits the school based health center twice a day to keep her blood sugar levels in check. "Anytime I need too but mostly before lunch, before I eat."

Brittney is just one of many students who access the health center, which opened 11 years ago. "We provide over the counter medication, physicals, comprehensive physicals, even immunizations," says School Based Health Center Director Sandra Semien.   She says the services provided help keep working parents working and kids healthy in school.

So far, there are health centers in five schools, but Semien hopes that number and services provided will expand.   She says, "I can see us going into the community more and opening later in the afternoon when parents are off."

For Brittney, who may not always feel up to par, saying, "I might be doing a test and I can't concentrate and I tell the teacher and I come to the center," the school based health center has helped her stay competitive with sports and her studies. "She wants to be a nurse or pediatrician so she can help other kids with diabetes," says her mom.  And there's no doubt around here, she'll succeed in her aspirations.

One of the biggest hurdles keeping more centers from opening is funding. However, Christus Saint Patrick Hospital does fund five of the school based health centers in Southwest Louisiana.