Soon, students in Lebanon schools will have a completely different experience when they visit the school nurse.
Six school-based health care centers equipped with state-of-the-art telemedicine and videoconferencing technologies for the schools are almost up and running. The program is designed to provide the most efficient and effective delivery of health care to students and staff, according to Lebanon schools officials.
The program is the result of a partnership between the Community Progress Committee, Inc., Lebanon schools and Coordinated School Health. Funding was secured through the Affordable Care Act – Grants for School-Based Health Center Capital Program.
“We are excited that these partnerships have worked together to equip SBHCs in each of our schools that will greatly impact our students and teachers by reducing health-related absences and promoting the health and
academic success of our students, said the School Health Coordinator Tammy Grow. "I'd like to recognize the special efforts of Dr. Robert Bone and Sheena Sloan in expanding health care accessibility to children in Lebanon.”
Organizers say these centers will have a tremendous impact on the local community by enabling students to receive the care they need in the convenience of their schools, while reducing tardiness and absenteeism, limiting the time parents have to take off of work for doctor’s appointments and will emphasize prevention and early illness detection.
Services will begin being offered in January 2013 at Winfree Bryant Middle School, while Walter J. Baird Middle School, Coles Ferry Elementary School, Sam Houston Elementary School, Byars Dowdy Elementary School and Castle Heights Elementary School students will have access to care beginning in spring 2013.
According to school officials, the SBHCs:
• diagnose and treat many common conditions, such as sore throats, headaches and ear infections.
• offer early illness detection for conditions, such as the flu.
• provide care for minor injuries, such as burns, scrapes, sprains and minor wounds.
• provide referrals for other services.
“We are excited to participate in this progressive endeavor to improve on our current health care delivery system in Lebanon,” said Dr. Wayne O. Wells.
Arrangements have been made between the school district and The Doctor’s Office, LLC to provide access to health care services to students while they are at school through the use of state-of-the-art telemedicine and
videoconferencing technology provided by Solutionz Conferencing, Inc. Lebanon Special School District staffs all of its school clinics with a registered nurse, and Wells will provide primary care services and consults.
"Winfree Bryant is the pilot site," said the school's Head Nurse Sheila Neal. "We're just waiting on culture tests for flu and strep on our end."
She said she has seen a lot of sick students in the last few weeks.
"The last couple days we could have helped a lot of children," Neal said.
She said sometimes it's difficult to tell if a student is sick during the preliminary stages of an illness.
"With the telemedicine, I can make contact with the doctor," she said. "I will have a camera to look at a student's throat, and the doctor on the other end can see what I see."
If the doctor thinks it's needed, he can order a strep test, which the school nurses can perform, with the results being sent straight to the doctor. Then, if necessary, the doctor can call in a prescription to the pharmacy. This will get students on the road to recovery faster and help harried parents, especially those who work out of town.
The clinics will be available to students and staff when school is in session. Services offered through the SBHCs are confidential. Health center records are kept by The Doctor’s Office, separate from students' school records.
Services provided in the SBHCs are billed the same way they would be if these services were provided at The Doctor’s Office. Assistance with applying for TennCare coverage for those not currently insured will be made available courtesy of The Doctor’s Office. The school will not be involved with the payment process.
Parents who would like their child to be able to receive services at school must complete and submit the parental consent form and a health history form and turn it in to the school clinic as soon as possible. Services cannot be provided without a written consent on file. Forms can be picked up in the school clinics or can be easily downloaded online at lssd.org/coordinated-school-health.
"We will have to have written parental permission and we will have to call a parent before we see the child," Neal said.
Neal is anxious to get the program of the ground at Winfree Bryant.
"We're excited. It's going to be beneficial to students and for the children of employees," she said. "It just takes a little time to get through the process."