Southeast Community Health System stays open in wake of shutdown

ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - A public health clinic in Zachary is staying open in the face of a government shutdown.

The Southeast Health Community System has managed to keep seeing patients and keep all 86 employees on staff.

Nurse Kiyanna Mitchell keeps making her rounds.

"Good morning. Who do we have here? Oh, she's beautiful. Let's make sure she's doing well," Mitchell said to the mother of a newborn.

The mother and her young child were at the health center for a routine checkup. She and other parents rely on the clinic for medical, mental and dental services.

Ervin Coleman said if the clinic were to close he'd have to take his one year old somewhere out of town.

"I'd probably have to take the whole day off to take my child to the doctor's office," Coleman said.

The system, which has seven locations in four parishes, is funded primarily by the government.

Chief Executive Officer Selina Senegal said the government shut down has put some of those facilities in a bind.

"I just don't think everyone understands the true impact," Senegal said.

The Zachary location, which opened just 14 months ago, has seen an estimated 45,000 patients. Senegal said doctors are able to keep seeing patients because system administrators planned ahead.

"We're one of the larger health centers in the state, very blessed and fortunate to have a solid financial foundation where we can absorb certain costs and offer support more to our communities," Senegal said.

Senegal said she's got enough funding to stay open for six months.

"It says a lot, a whole lot that they care for the people and children. They are not just thinking about themselves," Coleman said.

Senegal said once the government re-opens the clinic should get a check to cover some of the expenses it incurred.

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