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“School nurses have been using Georgia Partnership for Telehealth to bring telehealth services to our schools since January 4th,” says Clarke County School District Director of School Nursing Amy Roark. “Staff have been very appreciative of this service as it has allowed many to be evaluated by an MD and stay at work during their school day.” This service costs the same as a regular physicians co-pay or, if you don’t have insurance, it’s a $45 flat fee. Telehealth services can run flu tests, strep tests, & other diagnostic services conveniently from the school nurses’ clinic.

In addition to providing services for employees, telehealth is also available to CCSD students.  “Recently, we had our first two student visits, one for a child at Oglethorpe and another at Chase. In both scenarios, the school nurse identified that the child needed a medical evaluation and scheduled a tele-health appointment with a medical provider,” says Ms. Roark.  The students were seen by medical providers and antibiotics were prescribed, all while the children remained at school. The prescriptions were called into the pharmacy so that the parents could easily pick up the medications at their convenience. Since this interview, Ms. Roark has reported that many more telehealth visits have been completed across the district. “The interest and response across the district to telehealth services has been wonderful! This is a service that is being utilized in our schools on a daily basis”.

Another recent success with the telehealth program has been with CCSD’s Migrant Education Program, which serves many families in the Clarke County School District who are not eligible for services such as EBT, Medicaid or housing assistance. Many of these families do not have health insurance and only see a doctor at the Emergency Room. Sometimes when students are out of school for illness, they have inadequate supervision and care at home.

“We have a student who is a kindergartner who has suffered from recurrent ear infections and has missed 20 days of instruction this school year due to illness. When he is home, his high school aged sister is recruited to skip school and stay home with him; she has also missed 20 days of instruction. Money is tight for this family of nine, and they do not have access to Medicaid, food stamps or other government assistance programs, nor do they have health insurance. The children have never had regular doctor visits. In order to attend school, the Migrant Education program supplied bus tickets for the family to get to the Athens Health Department and also paid for the vaccines for all 5 children who are enrolled in Clarke County Schools .

On a recent morning the student was sent to his school nurse with excessive drainage from his ear. When our district Migrant Education Specialist, Elizabeth Dubberly, arrived at the school, the nurse had communicated with our Tele-health provider to supply all the paperwork and made an appointment with the Tele-health nurse. Ms. Dubberly spoke to the agent at the Athens Neighborhood Health Center and then reached out to a local church to request $45 for the self-pay consultation. Our student's parents arrived on site to sign waivers and consent for treatment and then returned to work. The Tele-health nurse walked in, transcribed vitals and took photos to send to the doctor.  A camera was fitted to an otoscope and live images were transmitted to the clinic, where the physician examined them in real time while talking our student on the monitor, asking questions about his history before diagnosing a suppurative otitis media with perforation. A follow up visit was scheduled and Ms. Dubberly spoke and texted with the parents throughout the appointment. Within 30 minutes, Ms. Dubberly had gone to the Athens Neighborhood Clinic Pharmacy and returned to school with $3 worth of Cipro otic drops which were administered (with the parent’s permission) as was Motrin (also $3 from ANC). The nurse and Ms. Dubberly made videos to show the parents exactly how to measure and insert the drops into his ear. At 11:30 am, three hours later, our student had been seen by a doctor, received treatment and was headed to lunch with a friend. He spent the afternoon back in his classroom.

This story illustrates how the Telehealth Program allows students who are not contagious to spend their day at school, receive evaluation and treatment all in a safe, warm and happy environment where they are fed and supervised.  

This tele-health program is also a small glimpse into the future of what school based health clinics might look like! CCSD truly is … Better Every Day.