This fall, 26 Dallas-area schools will have telemedicine equipment embedded in the school nurse’s office that will immediately connect a sick child with a Children’s pediatrician. Ear and sinus infections, conjunctivitis and rashes that might have meant a call home now can be handled at school.
The telehealth initiative is the result of state incentive dollars for innovative healthcare delivery. The program will fund mobile carts outfitted with a laptop, printer and medical scopes for an exam. School nurses will undergo training on how to use the equipment. The state funding will cover three years of implementation and equipment, after which schools may be asked to pay a nominal support fee.
The program keeps students in school and parents at work, and increases instructional time. Parents can pre-register their child for teleconsults through participating schools. Parents also will have the option of pre-registering a preferred pharmacy, allowing a pediatrician to order an electronic prescription that can be waiting for parents on the way home from work.
Eventually, the in-school telehealth initiative will be expanded to help children with chronic disease management, providing education, monitoring and follow-up for conditions including asthma, allergies, ADHD and weight management.
Another school initiative partners Health Teacher, an online curriculum resource, with teachers from the Dallas Independent School District and McKinney Independent School District to provide health education literacy tools, including lessons and interactive presentations. The program is linked to the Texas Education Agency’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum, offering games, apps and educational resources to address physical activity, nutrition, and social and emotional well-being. Children’s Medical Center is funding the initiative for one year and is looking for community collaborative partners and other grant opportunities to continue the program.
Upcoming initiatives involving schools and school nurses include:
- A new community engagement outreach program that will streamline the process for requesting speakers, event staffing or program sponsorship at school health fairs and events.
- Advanced professional development opportunities for school nurses that will be expanded beyond the annual Care of the School Aged Child Conference, which attracts school nurses from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area for continuing medical education credits. Webinars and half-day training on specific topics will be launched to expand opportunities for continued education units.
- Tools for Schools kits that will promote health improvement initiatives through school nurses and school administrators. The kits will offer tools on everything from asthma to nutrition, supplied through a variety of vendors that partner with Children’s Medical Center.