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Who WE Are – The Life Health Center

Wiedenmann

The Life Health Center (LHC) at Eisenberg became a vital asset to Colonial Nation when it opened its doors as the first Wellness Center in the state in an elementary school in 2018. But when the pandemic hit, students, residents, and employees in the district soon learned the value of having the center in what remains a healthcare desert along the Route 9 corridor.

As of March 17th, LHC has performed 1,456 rapid tests for COVID-19 since February of last year. The non-invasive nasal swab tests which are administered free of charge to students, staff, and families showed 148 positive results within minutes. While the tests have slowed the spread of COVID in the community, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Sharon Farrell believes they also put families and teachers at ease. With 40% of Colonial’s student population back in the classroom, she says children with sniffles and other common cold symptoms are often sent to the center but are cleared within minutes after the rapid test is administered to those who know about the center.

“I feel like we’re doing a great job at keeping kids in school, and I think if we didn’t have the rapid test a child might be sent home because of symptoms, and if their families don’t know about our center they have to find a place to get tested, and then they have to wait a day or two for those results to come back, and in the meantime, they’re missing school.”

To further detect and protect Colonial’s elementary and special needs students, LHC is now going directly to schools to perform what’s called antigen testing…another non-invasive nasal   “surveillance” swab test that looks for active infections.  Positive students are immediately isolated from others, their parents or caregivers are notified and tested, while school nurses identify all who came in contact with the student at the buildings. In some cases, the child or even the entire class is forced to quarantine for 10 days, but the spread of COVID has been contained thanks to the tests.

LHC Director Forrest Watson IV says his staff has also been working hard to ease employee anxiety and vaccination hesitation, especially since the center was recently cleared to become a vaccination site. He says  LHC has also has seen the need for mental health and social services increase significantly during the pandemic so his staff is tasked even more. All this, showing how essential the LHC is to employees and families in the district.

“The pandemic has caused us to face challenge after challenge. What we have found is that we all are in this life together. The love we have for each other that has been demonstrated in our service to one another is the cord that brings us hope. This hope gives us the strength to confront our tomorrow, and with each day we find a new canvas to rewrite our stories so that we gain strength together. Creativity together. Ingenuity together. One nation, one community,” Watson says, his sentiments perfectly reflecting Colonial’s Power of WE.