2013-03-06 / Front Page

Telemedicine now offered in local schools

By Deborah Bennett
Millen News editor

Students in the Jenkins County School System no longer have to leave school to visit the doctor’s office. They need only to visit the school nurse’s office to receive medical care. The local system began offering Telemedicine last month, provided by the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth.

Telemedicine focuses on clinical services and provides access to doctors from all over the world. Local students now have access to local doctors and specialists from other medical centers such as Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, Georgia Health Sciences (MCG) and others, including mental health specialists.

Equipment for the program was purchased for the Jenkins County High/Middle Schools and Optim Medical Center-Jenkins through a grant received from Amerigroup, the agency that manages the Medicaid and Peachcare programs in the state, said Mandy Underwood, Jenkins County Family Enrichment Center Executive Director. Mrs. Underwood wrote the grant for the school system through the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth Office.

So how does it work? A student visits the nurse’s office where the nurse performs an initial assessment such as taking the student’s temperature, weight and blood pressure. She then arranges for the student to “see a doctor” via the telemedicine equipment. The doctor will look at the student via web cam and the student can see the doctor. The school nurse will then examine the student with the doctor, checking the ears, nose, eyes and throat. These images are captured on screen for the doctor to view and make a diagnosis. The doctor then calls a prescription to the local pharmacy for the student.

“Eventually the medicine will be delivered to the school, but that is still a work in progress,” said Mrs. Underwood.

Teachers in the Jenkins County School System can also use the program. Instead of missing a day at school, they can see a heart doctor, dermatologist, or any other physician using Telemedicine.

“The school system has indicated that this is a much needed service in Jenkins County,” said Mrs. Underwood.

She also points out that better healthcare is not the only benefit of the program.

“We have less students missing school. Therefore, improved graduation rates and a better workforce,” she said.

The Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth now has over 200 specialists and healthcare providers representing over 40 specialties participating in the network. In 2012, the organization had over 75,000 encounters and that figure is expected to double in 2013. For more information on Telemedicine, visit the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth website at

www.gatelehealth.org.

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