Getting school age children the medical care they need when they aren’t feeling well can be a real challenge for parents. A new telemedicine program from Effingham Health System is providing some area students the opportunity to “visit” the doctor while they are in school.
Effingham Health TELEMED has transformed healthcare for children in our community. It makes healthcare more convenient and accessible for parents, avoids delays in treatment and enhances learning by decreasing absenteeism.
Effingham County’s non-profit healthcare system is working with the Effingham County Board of Education on this new program. According to Joseph Tallent, Community and Operations Coordinator for Effingham Health System, it is the first such program in the greater Savannah region.
Telemedicine in schools has met with great success in the past few years. Effingham Health TELEMED has partnered with Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, which has launched telemedicine programs in over 100 schools in Georgia. “Being a part of their pacesetting program is a real honor for Effingham Health System,’” explains Mr. Tallent.
HOW IT WORKS
If a sick student appears that they may need to see a doctor, the school nurse reaches out to the parent. The student (or a teacher who is not feeling well) is triaged to determine if they meet the criteria for a telemedicine appointment. If yes, and there is signed consent on file, the nurse contacts Effingham Health System to schedule a same day appointment via the schools telemedicine technology. If it is late in the afternoon, appointments are made for early the next morning.
Assessments and diagnoses are performed by a physician or advance practitioner from Effingham Health System. Their care team advises on medical treatments and calls in any prescriptions for the parent to pick up at their convenience. The school nurse follows up with parents after the visit.
Today’s telemedicine has evolved to include cutting-edge medical treatment and innovative technology. A blue tooth stethoscope, HD digital cameras, monitors and a digital scope, provide a high definition picture of the patient for the physician, who communicates via live cameras and a computer, while a secure connection assures patient privacy.
Effingham Health TELEMED is also open to faculty and staff members. Guyton and Springfield Elementary schools were chosen as the pilot schools for this new program. The plan is to expand to other schools in the fall.
The goal of our telemedicine program is to increase attendance and GPA for students, increase access to providers, decrease after hours emergency room visits and hospitalizations all while decreasing the time away from work for parents.
The school nurses, Joe Tallent and Shannon Clark, Effingham Health System Practice Manager, have received training through Georgia Partnership for Telehealth and are Certified Telehealth Clinical Presenters.
“Joe and I are available to not only assist with the scheduling, if needed, but we also go to the schools to assist the nurses with the presenting of the patient to the Providers if the nurses are busy with their other daily duties and responsibilities,” states Clark.
Effingham Health System has had 27 telemedicine visits since the program went live in October 2017.