News

Children's Hospital New Orleans Makes Significant Investment in School-Based Health with the Formation of its Office of Educational Initiatives and the Launch of the Hospital's 'ThriveKids' Student Wellness Project

Children’s Hospital New Orleans is investing in innovative programs to advance the physical and mental health of children in the school setting, as part of the hospital’s mission-based work in the community.

NEW ORLEANS – As the health experts for kids in Louisiana, Children’s Hospital New Orleans is allocating $5 million in direct funding and setting aside another $2.5 million to match community donations for a total commitment of $10 million to launch ThriveKids, The Student Wellness Project. To reach a ThriveKids team member, learn more about the program, or donate in support, please visit CHNOLA.org/ThriveKids.

ThriveKids, The Student Wellness Project by Children’s Hospital New Orleans, is a comprehensive school wellness initiative that is focused on one thing – advancing the mental and physical health of all kids.

“In addition to funding our new Office of Educational Initiatives with professionally trained staff, technology and infrastructure to support school-based health, Children’s Hospital is inviting the community to join us in supporting this vital work,” says John R. Nickens IV, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Children’s is setting aside an additional $2.5 million as matching funds for individual donors, business and foundations who contribute to the ThriveKids project. This is how we can be Extraordinary Together for the kids of Louisiana.”

ThriveKids, The Student Wellness Project, is a comprehensive community-based program that provides school-based virtual care, mental and behavioral health services, sports medicine, chronic condition management, COVID-19 support, school nurse support, a dedicated nurse hotline for school wellness and best practice reference materials for schools throughout Louisiana.

ThriveKids currently includes sport medicine services in 34 schools across Southeast Louisiana, school-based virtual care in 30 schools, pilot programs for in-school behavioral health services in seven schools, COVID-19 support for 130+ schools in addition to statewide collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education to support 3,000+ schools and childcare centers, a developing team of six full-time nurses dedicated to providing school nurse support, 32 specialty care nurse navigators who support school nurses with chronic condition management, and COVID-19 testing teams who provide expedited drive-thru and onsite campus testing for students, teachers and school staff.

“ThriveKids provides schools with resources designed to help Louisiana’s children grow up healthy,” says Stephen Hales, MD, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “At Children’s Hospital, we are making a significant investment to help empower healthy schools and healthy communities, because we know that the future wellbeing of our children is depending on it.”

“As the specialty Children’s Hospital for Louisiana, we are proud to serve the most vulnerable children in our region with a commitment to heal sick children – but we believe we can do more,” says Nickens. “Today, Louisiana’s children rank near the bottom for health outcomes in our country. Our vision is that by providing access to comprehensive school wellness programs, all children have the opportunity to reach their highest potential and thrive!”

ThriveKids involves direct collaboration with schools, and customized programs based on each school partner’s specific needs. The ThriveKids team at Children’s Hospital understands that each school is unique and works to best support each school with a wide range of programs and services.

“Changing the health of a generation starts by meeting children where they are, and Children’s Hospital is doing that by developing innovative solutions,” says Joseph A. Gonzales, MD, Medical Director of School Wellness Initiatives at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

“Collaboration between our education and healthcare communities is critical to improving the total wellbeing of Louisiana’s children,” says State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “I am proud to see the progress we’re making in bringing health services directly to students in the school setting through Children’s Hospital’s ThriveKids program.”

Children’s Hospital’s growing school-based virtual care program allows students to see a pediatrician or specialist from school through a secure video visit, in coordination with the school nurse or designee for minor conditions and common concerns. The on-demand service saves a trip to the doctor’s office, allowing parents to join in remotely – keeping kids in school and parents at work.

School-based psychiatry is also being piloted in a few select schools, an important part of the ThriveKids program that the hospital plans to expand as matching donations are received.

Children’s Hospital understands the need to not only support children, but also those who care for them. A key addition to the growing list of how Children’s Hospital is supporting schools is the recent development of a dedicated School Nurse Team, a resource specifically designed to offer in-person and virtual on-demand support to schools, along with training and educational opportunities.

“School-based health services present a unique opportunity to provide much needed care, while eliminating some barriers to access – including transportation and health education. Other benefits include less class time missed, less work missed for caregivers, and more opportunity for collaboration between school staff and pediatric health professionals,” Gonzales adds.

In collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education, Children’s Hospital’s team of COVID-19 experts have shared guidance with schools and childcare centers across the state to support reopening plans and processes over the last several months. Children’s Hospital’s expertise has also been shared through additional collaborations with 130+private, parochial and charter schools across Louisiana.

ThriveKids builds upon the great work Children’s Hospital and its school partners have accomplished together during these unprecedented times. Additionally, Children’s Hospital will be recruiting an administrative leader for its newly formed Office of Educational Initiatives, who will have oversight over the ThriveKids program, and will work collaboratively with the hospital’s physician leaders to expand school wellness initiatives.

Find additional information and the ability to donate in support of ThriveKids, The Student Wellness Project, at chnola.org/ThriveKids.

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About Children’s Hospital New Orleans
Children’s Hospital New Orleans is a 222-bed, non-profit academic pediatric medical center that offers comprehensive healthcare services, including over 40 pediatric specialties, delivered just for children. With more than 400 physicians trained in more than 40 pediatric sub-specialties, Children’s offers a comprehensive array of pediatric healthcare services in Louisiana and the Gulf South. In addition to its main campus located in New Orleans, the hospital operates a network of specialty clinics across Louisiana and in Southern Mississippi, including in Covington, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette. Children’s Hospital offers primary care services at 15 convenient locations throughout Southeast Louisiana and remotely via its Virtual Care for Kids program. Children’s Hospital is a proud member of LCMC Health, a Louisiana-based, not-for-profit hospital system which also includes New Orleans East Hospital, Touro, University Medical Center New Orleans, West Jefferson Medical Center and Est Jefferson General Hospital. Learn more at chnola.org.