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Published on April 14, 2022

Guilford County Schools Expand Telemedicine into More Schools

Cone Health provides the medical care in an innovative partnership with Guilford County Schools.

 

 

Greensboro – Telemedicine services will soon be available to students at Cone Elementary and Washington Montessori schools. Services began in April last year at Bessemer Elementary School as part of a pilot program with Guilford County Schools and the Duke Endowment.  

Nurse at telemedicine console

School nurse at telemedicine console

The program’s goal is to help students avoid missing class and then receiving expensive emergency department care for relatively minor ailments. Studies show that learning suffers when students are not in class. Of the 300 patients seen at the Bessemer Elementary clinic since it opened, 240 returned to the classroom the same day. Without the telehealth clinic, all would have been sent home as early dismissals. 

In the telemedicine on site clinic, a trained nurse telepresenter can triage minor problems. When the student needs to see a provider, the nurse can arrange a virtual visit from the school. A pediatrician or family medicinal provider connects to the site by a video link and the child’s parent or guardian can participate either over the phone or in the video connection.

Monitoring Device

The physician can examine the child remotely using a high-definition camera and a series of digital tools. These tools allow the doctor to listen to a child’s breathing, peer inside the ears or examine a wound. The child can be treated, given a prescription or referred for an in-person meeting with a doctor. 

The schools initially chosen for the program are Title 1 schools. “These are schools that serve areas where families historically lack access to routine medical care. Getting even basic care isn’t easy,” says Dr. John Jenkins, who leads digital health education and special projects at Cone Health. “A parent with an hourly job would find it financially difficult to lose several hours of pay taking a child to a pediatrician. Often their best option is to bring the child to an emergency department when they are off work.” 

Remote device for examining inner ear

Medicaid statistics from 2020 showed that 32% of children seen in emergency departments were there for relatively minor ailments. Half of those children had three or more emergency department visits.

The hope is to expand the telemedicine program to all elementary schools in Guilford County. Guilford County Schools has also mentioned possibly expanding access to include employees-- keeping more teachers at the head of the class.