Paoli Community School Corporation will be the first to receive services through the new initiative.
PAOLI, Indiana – Health care access at Orange County schools will reach a new dimension through a new partnership between Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) with area elementary, middle and high schools to establish in-school telehealth clinics. The new telehealth clinics, beginning with Throop Elementary School, will allow students to be seen by medical professionals through a secure link using digital diagnostic instruments.
“This is a great advancement for our schools, as our students in need of health services can now be seen privately by medical professionals in the school nurse office instead of having to be transported to a doctor’s office or have their parents pick them up during school hours,” said Greg Walker, Superintendent of the Paoli Community School Corporation. “This helps to keep students learning in classrooms and doesn’t result in unnecessary disruption that affects families.”
In the Spring of 2021, SICHC survey research showed a high level of interest at all Orange County schools for the digital in-school service. More than two-thirds of parents surveyed expressed interest.
Using CARES Act funding for COVID-19, SICHC then purchased digital equipment required for the clinics in the area schools and provided training for school nurses. The secure telehealth equipment allows SICHC medical professionals to conduct an examination.
When a student becomes ill or reports symptoms while at school, they can go to the nurse’s office as they typically would, but then they will as necessary receive direct medical treatment through secure connectivity with an on-call SICHC professional.
“Through this equipment, SICHC providers can view high quality live images of what the school nurse is seeing in a student’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth,” explained Yolanda Yoder, MD, SICHC Medical Director. “Working in concert with the school nurse, a virtual stethoscope also allows our providers to listen to important heart, lung and abdominal sounds.”
The telehealth clinic services from SICHC will expand to elementary and junior/high schools at Springs Valley Community Schools and the Orleans Community School District at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
“We are looking forward to having this service expand into the Springs Valley Community Schools next year and appreciate all of the advance work SICHC is doing to make this possible,” said Dr. Trevor Apple, Superintendent. “This will bring several advantages to students attending our elementary and junior and senior high schools.”
Advance parental registration for the service will be open at all sites in Orange County during the summer.
Services at the telehealth clinics can include diagnosis and treatment for acute illness and minor injuries, as well as limited laboratory testing and behavioral health services. Any prescriptions made during a virtual visit can be sent to a parent’s preferred local pharmacy for later pickup by a parent.
“The telehealth clinics can treat common cold or flu, cough, and sore throat issues, including strep, ear infections, rashes, pink eye, ear and urinary infections,” said Dr. Yoder. “Since good health comes from the whole health of mind, body and spirit, they will also be able to provide behavioral or mental health care as needed from our professional licensed counselors in collaboration with school counselors and social workers.”
Parents remain engaged with the virtual diagnostic process, as they will be given the option of joining any session by phone. Parents must also provide permission in advance for their child to be seen through the telehealth clinic. SICHC will provide a written summary of the session to both the school nurse and parent.
No student will be denied service because of an inability of the family to pay. Services provided at the school-based clinic will be billed to the family’s insurance. If a family does not have medical insurance, parents will be referred to a SICHC certified insurance navigator to explore options.
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About the Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) nonprofit organization – Well-known as a high-impact health care provider committed to continuity of care, the nonprofit Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) organization is committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive, community-sensitive health care utilizing Christ-centered principles to medically underserved, rural communities. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), SICHC serves as a “safety net” provider for vulnerable populations and focuses on increasing access to primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities. SICHC offers medical care in medically underserved areas of Crawford, Martin, Orange, and Washington counties. SICHC is a member of the National Health Services Corps and receives program funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SICHC offers services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay. For more information, please visit https://sichc.org/
About Springs Valley Community Schools – Springs Valley Community Schools sets as its mission to inspire creative learning, prepare accountable and responsible citizens, achieve more by reaching higher and succeed in building a stronger community. For more information, please visit https://www.svalley.k12.in.us/
About the Paoli Community School Corporation – Committed to fulfill its stated mission of “Striving for Excellence,” the Paoli Community School Corporation focuses on opening doors for the future for its students in elementary, junior and high schools. For more information, please visit https://www.paoli.k12.in.us/