“School Based Telemedicine Services” is a proposal made to the school board by Christus Coushatta. Board members said they are definitely interested, but want more information on costs and the process of implementation.
Christus Coushatta Administrator Brandon Hillman presented the idea to the board. Hillman said, “Several neighboring parishes do this. Kids can be seen right in the school, without having to go to a clinic or emergency room.”
Central to the service is a medical cart that would be located at the school. It would be connected via the internet to the hospital. A Nurse Practitioner at the hospital would talk with the student and be able to check their vital signs, look in their ear, listen to their heart and make other evaluations. The school nurse or trained equipment operator at the school would facilitate the process.
Hillman said, “We are in a healthcare shortage area. There are not as many doctors and medical people as in a larger area. This takes the health care worker to the student.” He added, “There is less stress for caregivers. They don’t have to leave their job. Teachers don’t have to take off. And the quality of health care is just as good as being in front of a doctor.”
With this system, Hillman explained, a student could be diagnosed, get a prescription sent to the pharmacy, and get the treatment he needed without having to wait to see a doctor.
“What is the cost?” asked board member Valerie Cox. Hillman said, “Each medical cart would cost $45,000 and one would be required for each school location. In addition, there is about $15,000 in continuing costs per year.” This does not include any costs of providing space at the school or hiring a school employee to work the equipment.
Cox asked School Nurse Fleeter Taylor to comment. Taylor said, “It is a great tool. Implementation will be learning how to use it. I think it’s a starting point and would be wonderful for the staff.”
Board member Gary Giddens said he has some experience with the system now in operation in Bienville Parish. “Absolutely move forward with it,” said Giddens.
The school board decided this system is something they want to explore. Hillman said his goal is to open this system at at least one school by the beginning of the next school year.