A major advance in technology, in the school nurses office, is coming to the Frontier School District. Students at the middle school will soon be able to get treated through telemedicine.
School leaders gave News 4 a first-hand look at how the technology works. They demonstrated it for us using a 2nd grader, Jenna Hughes, who pretended to have an ear ache and stuffy nose.
School nurse, Suzanne Andelora gets about 100 kids in her office every day. She’s one of two RNs at the middle school. But starting in November, through a screen, the nurses will be able to call on doctors, to help treat the students.
First Andelora will have to call the student’s parents to get permission to see a telemedicine doctor. All the health care professions that are called are local. They’re either a physician assistant, doctors or nurse practitioners.
The health care professionals can figure out a pulse, blood pressure, swollen ear drums or throats, diagnose rashes, and more, with the help of Bluetooth tools.
If a student needs a prescription, the doctors will be able to write the script and send it over to a pharmacy.
And school leaders, along with Andelora, hope this can reduce the number of absences at the school. More than 13 percent of students there are ‘chronically absent’ from school, meaning they miss at least 18 days every school year.
“We see some children that don’t have primary care providers and we know that lack of access to healthcare can effect the children and their attendance in school and their school performance,” Andelora said. “Having telemed available, we can take care of a child, have them evaluated, get treatment ordered all in a timely matter, so that they are able to either remain in school, or approve attendance, and therefore improve their academics.”
The CEO of the Buffalo company in charge of the technology said this is the first time they’re coming into a school.
“Primarily (we’re in) in nursing homes to avoid patients from going to the hospital after hours,” CEO of Mobile Healthcare Partners, Brian Egan said. “We also are in group homes.”
Egan, a Frontier alum, funded the technology in the school. The district says there’s no cost to taxpayers. They’ve applied for two grants in order to expand the program.
“Parents lead busy lives, and they’re only getting busier with all the things our kids our involved with,” Frontier Middle School Principal, Ryan Sikorski said.
Principal Sikorski, a parent himself, says they’re not looking for this to replace a student’s primary care physician, but believes it could help parents out. Instead of taking time off work to bring students to the doctor, they will be able to call-in during the telemedicine visits.
The district would like to roll-out the program at the middle school in the middle of November.