Louisiana State University, the flagship institution of the LSU System, was founded in 1860 as the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in Pineville, Louisiana. The school was moved to Baton Rouge in 1869, and in 1870 was renamed Louisiana State University. In 1877, LSU merged with the Agricultural and Mechanical College to become the state’s official land-grant institution. In 1978, LSU was awarded sea-grant status.
The LSU Student Health Service was organized in 1895 in a new building north of Pentagon Barracks Building “B” of the U.S. Army Post, the site of the present Louisiana State Capitol Building. The LSU Board of Supervisors’ purpose in creating the Student Health Service was for the care of the sick. A surgeon, assisted by a hospital steward and nurses, served students at prescribed times. In 1905, the hospital was transferred to a converted mess hall with a bed capacity of 20.
In 1925, the campus moved to its present location, and the Student Health Services was housed in a temporary wooden structure. A new LSU Student Hospital, built in 1937, consisted of an infirmary with an out-patient clinic, laboratory, X-ray, pharmacy, a diet kitchen, and a 100-bed hospital with operating rooms. In the late ‘40s, the Student Health Service shifted its emphasis to the development of out-patient services with short-term hospitalization for minor illnesses to encourage students to attend classes rather than being hospitalized.
In 1974, the in-patient service at the Student Health Service was closed, retaining only four beds for day care observation. In 1998 observation beds were reduced by two. The administrative structure was modified in 1975 to include an administrative Director, a Medical Chief of Staff, and Clinical Director for Mental Health Services. About that time, the Diet Service was moved from the facility to Residential Food Services. In 1976, the Student Health Services was changed from a state supported institution to that of a self-supporting auxiliary unit funded by student health fees assessed during registration plus ancillary charges for x-ray, laboratory, pharmacy, and mental health services.
In 1984, the name was changed to the Student Health Center to emphasize the educational outreach opportunities for well students, and a campus-wide Wellness Education Department was initiated in 1985.
In addition to the general clinic staff, new specialists were added over the years. Currently, part-time specialty areas are as follows: orthopedics, ophthalmology, dental screening, dermatology (1976), and ear, nose and throat (1980). A full-time gynecologist was employed in 1979 and an additional part-time gynecologist was employed in 2002. Psychiatric services were increased in 1999.
In September 2010, the Wellness Education Department changed its name to the Office of Health Promotion to more accurately reflect the department's mission.
Beginning in the Fall 2011, the Student Health Center transitioned to an electronic clinic management system, including electronic health records, online appointment scheduling and a secure student portal.
In November 2013, the Office of Health Promotion modified its name, once again, to include the term wellness which seems to resonate with students. The official unit name is now the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion, or simply Wellness and Health Promotion.
In May 2016, the SHC Pharmacy closed. The SHC entered into a lease agreement with an independent, external Pharmacy Service to operate a full service pharmacy, which will be housed in the Student Health Center. The ‘Pharmacy at LSU’ will include a renovated and updated space, expanded services and seamless insurance billing.
In June 2016, the LSU Student Health Center incurred a fire. The extensive fire, smoke, and water damaged the entire East wing of the building, including the Patient Access, Medical Clinic, Injection Clinic, Laboratory, and Digital Imaging units leaving those spaces uninhabitable. Mental Health Service and the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion, located on the second and ground floors of the West wing, respectively, were minimally impacted. Many staff were relocated within the SHC building and across campus in an effort to continue offering the full scope of service to students. The Wellness and Health Promotion staff moved to the Student Union to allow offices on the ground floor of the SHC to be repurposed as medical exam rooms.
In August 2016, renovations began to maximize efficiency and return the building to normal operation as quickly as possible.
In March 2018, the Pharmacy at LSU closed. Given that neither pharmacy model was successful, the administration made a business decision to forgo having a pharmacy in the Student Health Center and rather refer students to community pharmacies.
In May 2019, full restoration of the Student Health Center was complete, and all staff were relocated and the full scope of services resumed in the Student Health Center building.