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 washoused 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 SHC 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 areas temporarily inoperable. 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 and are now fully operational. Many staff were relocated within the SHC and across campus to the Student Union in an effort to continue offering services to students in the areas directly impacted. The Wellness and Health Promotion staff were relocated to the Student Union to allow the ground floor of the SHC to be repurposed into medical exam rooms. Renovations are currently underway to maximize efficiency and return the building to normal operation as quickly as possible. Full restoration is expected to take twelve to fourteen months.