Parenting: Celebrating 25 years of service

Northside Health Clinic
Northside health center
Posted at 5:44 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 08:14:13-04

25 years ago there was a concern raised to board members of Our Lady of Lourdes hospital.

"Somebody from Northside High said, 'we have a real problem. We have children that show up to school that are sick or have an illness and we have no way to treat them. Until we get their health issue over it's hard to educate them,'" Jim Prince, former boarder member for Lourdes Hospital, said.

That concern turned into an idea to develop a health clinic at the high school.

But as Prince told us, just because it is a good idea does not mean that everyone will be on board.

"Dudley Romero was the CEO at the time," Prince started. "Dudley and I made a trip up to the school board to present this idea and I guess we didn't do real good. We didn't get a no."

But they also did not get a yes.

Prince said he knew they needed reinforcements. They needed someone who could change the board's mind.

"Sister Betty Lyons is a little slight lady," Prince said as he described Sister Betty. "She spoke very softly and with an Irish accent."

She was just what they needed.

"She talked for about ten minutes, there was no questions from the school board, and she closed the meeting," Prince remembered. "We got a call a few days later that they approved it and were ready to get started."

Over two decades later the clinic is still serving the kids of Northside High School.

"It's way more easy," Student, Jared-Allen Aaron, said. "I don't have to go to the other side of town to get checked on. Or if I'm sick, it's convenient because it's at school. It's easier for me and my parents."

For 15 years, Iris Malone, nurse practitioner, has treated scores of kids at the health center.

She said, while the convenience is nice, it is the sense of family that keeps her coming back year after year.

"Over the years we have students that come and go," Malone said. "I see them now in the community, whether they were working here or going to school, and they always come and say, 'Mrs. Iris I remember when you helped me this or that.' That in itself is something that we're doing and helping the kids. We know we're making a difference and impact when they're in school. They remember us and say how we took care of them and get through school."

Merely and idea 25 years ago, today it is something the community cannot imagine living without.

What they hope for the future is that more centers, like the Northside Health Center, will be common in schools across Lafayette Parish.