ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - With a mission to provide affordable health care, Trinity Community Health Centers of Louisiana expanded its services to Rapides Parish.
Thursday they held a grand opening at their new school-based health center at Alexandria Middle Magnet.
"We're excited about what is going to happen in that health center and all the lives that they are going to touch," said AMMS Principal Dennis Stewart.
There was no small amount of fanfare at the ribbon cutting. The school's band marched across campus and played out front of their new center. A crowd of teachers, Trinity staff and community members gathered to celebrate.
Stewart said this resource is aiding his vision to develop the whole child.
"Many of our kids have a lot of issues that they deal with and this is going to help aid in that area, help them stay in school and be in the classroom," Stewart said. "This allows us to be able to move them academically."
This is Trinity's first school based health center in Rapides. They already have a few in Winn and Grant Parishes.
"The object of this program is to keep parents at work and children at school," said Trinity CEO Deano Thornton.
Thornton said a lot of health care needs fall through the cracks when parent's can't make doctor's appointments.
"We're here to fill the gaps on quality health care," Thornton said.
Nurses at the center can administer urgent and preventative care, giving immunizations or physicals at little to no cost.
"If a child comes in that is sick, we can actually phone in a prescription so the parent can go by and pick it up after school," Thornton said. "So, it's just like a regular doctor's office within the school house."
But, care here goes a step further with a licensed professional counselor on staff.
"I'm always a proponent of those behavior specialists," said Rapides Parish School Board member Sandra Franklin. "If we use those individuals effectively, we can intervene early when things are maybe troubling those young people. We can give them resources or direct them to where they can get those resources."
At Tuesday night's school board meeting Trinity got the green light for more centers in Rapides.
"For D.F. Huddle Elementary, for Peabody High School and for Bolton High School."
While staff is excited about the new edition, Stewart said the kids are too.
"Everything that we get for our kids, they are so excited," Stewart said. "We just tell them to take care of everything that comes to Alexandria Middle. The best is yet to come."
The Rapides Foundation helped Trinity write a grant to open the center at AMMS. Trinity is aiming to open the new D.F. Huddle Elementary health center next year.
Several Cabrini school-based health centers already exist in schools throughout the district.