Telemedicine to be introduced to school system this fall

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

The Marshall County Board of Education approved a pilot telemedicine program in the schools for the fall semester of the 2015-16 school year during Monday night's meeting.

Telemedicine, also known as telemed, is a new way to provide health care at a distance by using telecommunications and information technologies.

"This is cutting edge. This is our future. This is the new way to improve access to health care," Mike Keny, co-coordinator of Coordinated School Health, said as he presented the idea to the board.

The goal of the new program is to help students and staff get diagnosed so they will return to school sooner, ensure they have access to quality health care, reduce teacher sick leave and the use of substitute teachers and help students and staff get seen by a medical provider without receiving penalties for loss of work.

The new program, which is operated by eDM, is not to interfere with the existing school clinics, but it is to help guide them to diagnose a student. The nurse practitioner, who is to be an eDM empployee, is to spend one full day in each school and rotate so he can be present at each of the schools at least one day out of each two-week period.

If the nurse practitioner is at Westhills Elementary and a child at Forrest School needs to be seen, the nurse practitioner will work with the school nurse to diagnose the child. Parents who want to participate in the visit with the nurse practitioner will have the option of going to the school or logging into a telemedicine video chat and watch the visit.

If an illness is confirmed and medication is required, the nurse practitioner will notify the student's parents and submit a prescription to their pharmacy.

"We have met with all of our school system's nurses, and they are on board and excited about implementing this program in their school," said Keny.

The nurse practitioner is only to see students and staff at the school. They are to perform things like strep tests, but no contraception, pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease tests. The Marshall County Schools and a medical director are to decide at a later date whether students are able to be given injections.

"One negative thing I am seeing to come from this is parents sending their child to school even if they know the child has strep throat, so when he gets to school he will see better care," added Kristen Gold, third district school board member.

Keny added to Gold's comment by saying that the nurses are already seeing that scenario in the schools.

eMD is the company offering the program at no cost to the school. If there is an adequate response to the program, they will continue the remainder of the school year and will eventually renew automatically for five one-year periods.

In other action, the board recognized three students -- Nataley Staggs (first place), Jada Silva (second place) and Gabby Olin (third place) for being the Marshall County Education Association District Spelling Bee winners.

Alleyah Allen was recognized for attending the recent Tennessee School Board's Association Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE). Allen attended the conference on March 9 where she attended mock school board meetings, group discussions and debates with her peers.

Mike Whitehead, math teacher at Marshall County High School, was recognized for being named the 9-12 South Central Regional Teacher of the Year.

Wanda Hargrove, Amanda Roberts, Silvia Romero, Marianne Whitley and Paul Williams were each recognized as employees of the month for their hard work in the Marshall County school system.

The board approved to hire 12 wokers at $8 an hour to work 29 days over the summer.

The meeting ended with Jackie Abernathy, director of Marshall County Schools, thanking Blair Glenn for donating a flute to the MCHS band.