Sisters Susan Truluck and Cherie Parker have done more than open three successful Lice Clinics of America clinics in the Kansas City area, they’ve started a movement. Their #BeLiceFreeinKC campaign has put them on the medical map in the city as a go-to resource when it comes to head lice, and they’ve done so by focusing on educating anyone and everyone about lice and lice treatment.
The clinics, which operate under the name Healthy Heartland Heads, are now seen as lice resource centers for many of the schools and organizations in the area, and as a result their referral network has consistently expanded.
“We all know about the misinformation in the media and even medical communities about head lice,” Cherie said. “We tried to do something about it.”
To that end, Cherie and Susan have created the program to bring educational presentations to schools, day care centers, foster care programs, assisted living centers and pediatric offices—anywhere people are struggling with head lice. But their primary focus has been to work with schools and school nurses.
It helps that Cherie is a nurse practitioner and Susan is an occupational therapist. They have the medical credentials to get a hearing, but that’s not the only key to their success. “I was a school nurse for one year,” she said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We really want to help school nurses because they have very difficult jobs, so we come from a place of empathy.”
It’s this helpful approach that wins the nurses’ trust, Cherie says. They started with their presentations to schools, and then giving free or reduced-price treatments as gestures of good will. First, nurses started sending them the hardest cases—children and families that had failed to conquer head lice with traditional treatments.
As happy parents and children returned to schools lice-free after a fast effective treatment with the FDA-cleared AirAllé medical device, the referrals started to stream in.
Cherie also helped one school write a grant proposal to get financial aid for head lice treatment from a local hospital foundation. “We showed the schools and nurses that we share their goal of keeping kids in school and keeping the lice drama to a minimum,” Cherie said. “And then we backed that up with our actions with special offers.”
Cherie and Susan also offer free re-checks for students after treatment, an offer that the school nurses love. “They see us going beyond the call of duty and it makes their jobs easier,” Cherie said. “We work hard to make sure their whole family is treated and educated.” They also offer Medicaid service to qualifying families.
“It took a lot of time to build trust with the schools and the school nurses,” Cherie said. “But it paid off in the long run.”
They have also set up a 24-hour lice crisis hotline. “We get calls from all over the country,” Cherie said. “We give information to the ones we can schedule.”
“We call our clinics Lice Resource Centers. We’re becoming known as the lice experts in our area, and that is helping us get more an more referrals,” Cherie said. “We even got a mom-to-be referred to us by her Ob-Gyn, which showed us that word is getting out.”
Susan and Cherie attend school and community health fairs and a local pediatric practice’s health carnival, setting up informational tables and often sponsoring the event with a small donation in exchange for a banner promoting their clinics. They coach also school counselors on how to talk to kids and parents about lice.
“Our message is always, ‘how can we help you,’” Cherie said. “Not ‘how can you help me.’ We let the community know that we’re here for them.”
Heartland Healthy Heads’ three clinics are located In Liberty (6 Victory Lane, Suite 5
Liberty, MO 64068, Olathe (801 N. Mur-Len Road Suite 105, Olathe, KS 66062), and Topeka (4125 SW Twilight Drive, Topeka, Kansas 66614). The clinics are three of more than 200 clinics in the United States. Certified technicians apply the treatment, and results are guaranteed.
With more than 350 clinics in 36 countries, Lice Clinics of America is the largest and fastest-growing network of lice treatment centers in the world. To learn more or to find a clinic visit, https://www.liceclinicsofamerica.com/clinics-near-you.