The James M. Cox Foundation announces $250,000 grant to Lafayette General Foundation

Cian Robinson, Al Patin, St. Martin Superintendent of Dr. Lottie Beebe, and Julie Dronet. Photo provided by Alex Labat of Lafayette General Health System.

The James M. Cox Foundation has provided a $250,000 grant to Lafayette General Foundation that will be used to further expand telemedicine in St. Martin Parish public schools. Through Project Health, Education and Technology (HEAT), a partnership between Lafayette General Health, St. Martin Parish Schools and Cox Communications, as many as 8,000 students in the parish will have access to healthcare by harnessing the technologies of telecommunications, high-definition cameras and viewing monitors, enterprise health records and cloud-based software.

Telemedicine visits cover non-emergency needs, such as sinus infections, cold and flu symptoms, cough, rash, etc., as well as ongoing chronic condition management, such as diabetes and asthma. As leaders in the fields of healthcare, education and technology, the local partners understand the impact access to healthcare has on overall health and educational outcomes for children, and are committed to serving those populations.

“The power of technology, significant investments in our robust fiber network and funds generously donated by the James M. Cox Foundation have enabled the expansion of telemedicine, which is an innovative solution to limited access to healthcare. We know that children who are healthy are more ready to learn. Through telemedicine, students receive virtual medical attention, allowing them to stay in school,” said Julie Dronet, Vice President for Cox in Acadiana. “Parents also benefit because it enables them to stay at work, boosting their earnings and productivity, and decreasing their time out of the office. By increasing access to healthcare, the lives of children and their families are improved,” Dronet continued.

The infrastructure to pilot telemedicine between Stephensville Elementary, the most remote elementary school in lower St. Martin Parish, and a school-based health center at St. Martinville Primary was established in 2015. It has proved very successful; students had higher attendance and better academic performance. In its first year at Stephensville Elementary, 87 percent of students enrolled in the telemedicine program.

“Being a not-for-profit regional healthcare system means we strive to give everyone access to quality care,” said Cian Robinson, Executive Director of Lafayette General Foundation. “Enrollment in the program at Stephensville Elementary is now up to 94 percent. Connecting more St. Martin Parish schools will provide immense benefits to the students and their parents, and allow us to further our mission to restore, maintain and improve health.”

(Photo: Julie Dronet of Cox addresses crowd. Photo provided by Alex Labat of Lafayette General Health System.)