For today's teens, a cheeseburger might sound better than a salad, and riding to school definitely preferable to walking - yet few would choose to be obese, or to begin developing heart disease or hypertension at an early age.
Students at Lanier High School in Jackson will learn how to adopt a healthier lifestyle in addition to receiving primary medical care when they visit the school's new Teen Wellness Clinic, a partnership between Jackson Public Schools, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Mississippi School of Nursing.
Taking part in the ribbon-cutting for the Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic were (from left) Lanier student Jaylin Rodgers, an ROTC cadet lieutenant colonel; Principal Eric Johnson; University of Mississippi School of Nursing Dean Dr. Kim Hoover; Lanier alumnus Hazel Shields; Dr. Janet Harris, School of Nursing associate dean and director of practice and community engagement; Dr. Kate Fouquier, a certified nurse midwife and associate professor in the School of Nursing; Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray; Dr. James Keeton, former UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and now distinguished professor and advisor to the vice chancellor; Dr. Claude Brunson, UMMC senior advisor to the vice chancellor for external affairs; Jackson businessman and Lanier alumnus Al Thomas; and Lanier senior Lauren Porter, granddaughter of the late Dr. Aaron Shirley.
An open house and dedication for the nurse practitioner-managed clinic was celebrated Tuesday at the school in the city's Georgetown community. UMMC is providing financial and staffing support to revitalize the former in-school clinic at Lanier, which houses about 800 students in grades 9-12. It brings to three the number of nurse-managed health clinics operated by UMMC and the School of Nursing in the Jackson school district. Johnson Elementary also has a clinic, and a joint clinic operates at Brown Elementary and Rowan Middle School.
“We're here today because you and the University of Mississippi Medical Center came together to do something that's right,” said Dr. James Keeton, former UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and part of the Medical Center leadership that over the last year worked to bring the clinic to fruition.
“If you're not healthy and you're not educated, you can forget about jobs,” Keeton, who now serves as distinguished professor and advisor to UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. LouAnn Woodward, told those gathered at the dedication. “The University of Mississippi Medical Center is proud to be a part of Lanier.”
“This is a natural progression for us,” said Dr. Janet Harris, associate dean and director of practice and community engagement in the School of Nursing. “Across the board, we identify vision needs, dental needs and comprehensive general health-care needs, and we provide education about their health.”
“The Teen Wellness Clinic is innovative in that it combines health outreach with clinical care in a new school-based health clinic run by an academic health science center,” said clinic director Dr. Kate Fouquier, a certified nurse midwife and associate professor in the School of Nursing.
Staffing the new Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic are (from left) University of Mississippi Medical Center nurse practitioner CeNedra Lee; Dr. Kate Fouquier, assistant professor in the School of Nursing and the clinic's director; and Priscilla Sterling, an AmeriCorps community health worker.
The clinic's services include treatment for acute and chronic illnesses as well as referrals to appropriate health care when an illness or treatment is out of the scope of practice for the nurse practitioner. Just as importantly, the clinic's wellness emphasis includes a focus on good decision-making to avert risky behavior that can have a lifelong impact.
Its delivery of youth-centered health-care services “is grounded in the belief that all young people have the right to confidential health services, and that providing youth with medically accurate and age-appropriate health information will give them vital tools they need to safeguard their health,” Fouquier said.
Today's teens face multiple barriers to care and preventive health services, among them ability to pay, lack of transportation and concerns that family or friends will learn personal details of their health needs, Fouquier said. The Teen Wellness Clinic “seeks to address underlying aspects of the social and cultural conditions that affect reproductive risk-taking behaviors with strategies designed to improve the underlying social conditions themselves,” she said.
Lee puts finishing touches on installation of equipment at the new Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic.
The clinic is staffed by UMMC nurse practitioner CeNedra Lee, patient care technician Rosalind Basham, and Priscilla Sterling, an AmeriCorps community health worker.
“We will take care of episodic health-care needs. We're not competing with their primary care health providers,” Harris said. “We are on the spot to take care of their needs, and if they need referrals to a specialist, we will do that in collaboration with their physician. We're tracking the number of referrals from our clinics so that we can measure the impact.”
Said Jackson district Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray: “It's no secret that when students feel better, they perform better in the classroom. The Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic will increase student attendance and achievement by providing medical services to students.
“I'm overwhelmed with excitement,” Gray said during the Tuesday event. “This is not something we take lightly. When you open up your pockets and resources like UMMC has, you're serious about us doing a good job at Lanier.”
The clinic will continue the mission of beloved Mississippi physician Dr. Aaron Shirley, who more than three decades ago brought preventive health care to Lanier when he became the force behind its first health clinic operation.
“His love was making sure everyone had access to health care,” said Terrence Shirley, son of the late Dr. Shirley and the administrator of UMMC's Department of Radiation Oncology. “He was a graduate of Lanier, so it was his baby.”
Count on students using the clinic “all the time,” said Lauren Porter, 17, a Lanier senior and the granddaughter of Aaron Shirley. “We didn't have one previously, and people didn't have anywhere to go for sports physicals or when they come to school sick. They can come to the clinic and get what they need.”
The new Lanier High School Teen Wellness Clinic will treat students for day-to-day medical ailments.
Students appreciate the chance for a listening ear, Porter said. “The clinic representatives told us that everything will be confidential,” she said. “The reassurance is there for students to be able to talk about things that they may or may not want to talk about with their parents.”
And, students will listen to each other as part of the clinic's peer counselor component that takes into account their ability to empathize and understand each other's problems, perhaps better than adults would. “Peer interventions will capitalize on the potentially strong positive influence of peers in bringing about positive behavior changes,” Fouquier said.
“We want the Teen Wellness Clinic to be about the opportunity for our Jackson students to pursue their dreams, in good health,” said Dr. Kim Hoover, professor and dean of the School of Nursing.
Harris said the School of Nursing has been active in the city's Midtown community near Lanier since 1998, when UMMC's UNACARE community family practice clinic opened. That led to the school-based clinics, “where the future of Mississippi's health really lies,” Harris said.
Davelin Woodard, a senior in the University of Mississippi School of Nursing, helps out by arranging health brochures at the new clinic, which will be a learning lab for nursing students.
The partnership between UMMC and the school district will be further strengthened by the clinic's advisory committee composed of community leaders and Lanier alumni, in addition to strong support from teachers and staff, Harris and Fouquier said.
“Lanier is in the same community as the other clinics, and if we want to address student needs from elementary through high school, this is a logical next step for us,” Harris said. “This really opened the door for us.”
Robotic simulator teaching health at Lanier
Lanier High sophomore Brione Parker (second from right) assists Dr. Jeffery Orledge, an associate professor in the University of Mississippi Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine, in treating a robotic human simulator for symptoms of poisoning. Monique Mathis, left and Dr. Martha Alexander, center, observed the exercise.
Lanier High teachers and students will learn valuable lessons in how the human body reacts to health conditions including seizures, allergic reactions or lack of oxygen by using a computer-driven human simulator named iStan.
The robotic dummy, which can be programmed to display the signs and symptoms of most human diseases, has been donated to the school by CAE Healthcare through its relationship with the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Simulation and Interprofessional Education Center. iStan will play a key role in educating students pursuing health-care careers when used as a teaching tool at Lanier's Health Academy, and the SIEC is training Lanier teachers in programming and troubleshooting iStan.
iStan is an ideal tool that allows students to understand physiology and health conditions that affect them, such as asthma, or an injury. One example: If you program iStan to lose a liter of blood, its blood pressure will drop and its heart rate will increase. The dummy's value is about $6,000, but the school must raise $4,000 to purchase a maintenance plan for iStan to ensure coverage of replacement parts and on-site repair by a CAE representative.