Terrebonne council to expand Teche reach

Terrebonne Parish is moving to add a new health unit to the Teche Action Clinic in Houma.

The Terrebonne Parish Council Public Services Committee voted to ratify the appointment of Houston Lirette Architects to draft plans for a new Terrebonne Parish Health Unit. The new unit will be annexed to the Teche Action Clinic on West Tunnel Boulevard.

Councilwoman Arlanda Williams represents District 2, where the clinic is located.

“I just think that to do a community health development in that area is outstanding, and it would service the needs of many in Terrebonne Parish. I look forward to it, and I look forward to many other different types of programs similar to those to start popping up,” she said.

Williams stressed the value of the new unit in improving health for all residents in the area, who all face the dangers associated with the region’s lifestyle.

“Anytime you live in South Louisiana, there’s always a risk. Because there’s increased high blood pressure, increased diabetes and stuff like that,” she said. “One, because of the diet, we love good food down here. So, overall there’s always room for improvement of health in the state of Louisiana.”

Dr. Gary Wiltz is the CEO of the board that manages all ten Teche Action Clinics in the state. Wiltz said the Terrebonne Medical Unit would provide geriatric services for aging residents and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services to low-income mothers and their children.

Aside from services, the unit will also provide information that can be just as vital, according to Wiltz. The clinic’s new addition will provide information to the aging population to inform them of what government health programs they are eligible for. There will also be nutritional classes for those with hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

“Our motto is kind of like ‘Live, eat, drink and be merry.’ Sometimes that doesn’t bode well for longevity,” Wiltz said. “Obviously you want to enjoy life, but there are things people can do that can improve their health and have a good quality of life.”

Claudet said the parish still has to get agreements in place before it can begin actual work on the site. He said that he hopes that construction on the unit could start within six months, with the work to probably take six to nine months from initiation.

The parish president said during Terrebonne’s effort to save the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in 2012 parish officials noticed that there were lots of duplications of services across the health care system in the parish. Claudet said that he could see the new medical center promoting both physical and fiscal health.

“This will hopefully prevent the duplication of services and in addition to that provide more and better services to the people in our community. We think that will assist with budgeting in the future for the parish, the state, and Teche,” Claudet said.

Wiltz said that he sees the clinic as an opportunity for Terrebonne to take a proactive stance on improving health.

“It gives an opportunity for the people of the community to formulate some solutions. You can’t craft it out of Baton Rouge or Washington, D.C. A lot of answers have to come from the local folks, and anything we can do to improve the health of the community is what we’re all about,” Wiltz said.

Williams said the new medical unit would be a progressive step for community health.

“This is something that’s moving in the right direction, and I look forward to it coming, and I’m truly excited for it coming to the district that I represent,” she said.