Life rolls out in cycles. Often the future reaches backward to bring the past into the present. As it stands now, we will soon be providing medical care on site. We did it many decades ago.

In fact, Methodist Home for Children of Greater New Orleans began as a medical facility. It originally provided care for pregnant girls and unwed mothers and served as an adoption agency.

Old clinic photo, Louisiana Methodist Children's Home

This photo is of our old “infirmary” at Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston. We have stories of kind, local doctors who provided free care to our children. As time passed, medicine began to take advantage of advances in technology. Doctors began specializing and somewhere along the way healthcare became one of the nation’s biggest industries.

Long ago, with an eye to the future, the Home sold properties so that the bulk of Lincoln Parish’s medical community sits right next door. Directly across the road from our campus in Ruston are two outpatient surgery centers, an emergency room, an urgent care center, a hospital and a large, multi-speciality medical center, both with full labs and diagnostic services including x-ray, cat scans, and other assorted diagnostic devices. There are physicians who specialize in pediatrics through podiatry, a rehab hospital, dental care … you get the idea. Our former leaders were strategic in the disposition of property so that now, except for a few uncommon specialties, Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home is surrounded by all the medical care we need.

When one of our children needs medical care we can literally walk across the road.

A Walk from the Other Direction

With the launch of Louisiana’s new Coordinated System of Care, the walk across the road must start from the other direction. New licensing standards from the Department of Health and Hospitals require that we provide all medical services – except emergency care – on our own campus. After March 1, the physicians, x-ray machines and dental chairs will have to “walk across the road” – so to speak – and provide their services in a clinic we are creating on campus in Ruston. In Sulphur and in Mandeville we are working quickly to contract with medical providers to provide their services to our children in our facilities.

So much about this change has us scratching our heads. The Department of Health and Hospitals’ new licensing regulations require that all routine medical services be provided away from established medical facilities and offered on our campus. Of course, the doctors, dentists and clinics we have spoken with about assisting us have all asked the same question after hearing our request of them: “Why?”

Nor is the state offering start up money for these medical clinics. You’ll notice the photo of our old clinic in Ruston has little in the way of medical equipment. There was no medical technology to speak of that many years ago. Our old clinic consisted of a bed, a sink and a really funny light bulb. Scroll up and look at it by the door.

Today, medical technology rules. Setting up a simple dental room will cost upwards of $250,000. X-ray and EKG equipment is costly, too. Fortunately, some services may be available from mobile providers – so long as the medical RV/bus is parked on our campus and not across the road at the hospital or clinic.

When you look at the old photo, notice the weird light bulb dangling from the ceiling and held close to the door with string. We’ve improved our lighting a great deal since then. You can be sure of this, the clinic photo you will see at the end of the year will be modern.

Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services

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