MARENGO, Indiana – In bringing high-tech telehealth to more than 1,500 students, the Crawford County Community School Corporation had to deal with the twin facts that it serves the largest geographic area of any public school system in Indiana and many of these students come from remote rural areas, according to Michael Key, superintendent of the Crawford County School Corporation in southern Indiana.
As of February 13, the more than 1,500 students in five Crawford County schools (elementary to high school) will now have access to onsite medical services, due in part to a unique mobile solution, according to Kathleen Chelminiak, project director of the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network (IRSCN).
“This system is very rural and serves students across Crawford County,” said Donna Huff a corporation school nurse serving the three elementary schools in the county. “With the capacity to either move the diagnostic equipment or transport students, we have the ability to serve our entire student population.”
Three sites in Crawford County will host the telehealth equipment, but the equipment can be moved as needed. All the clinics are served by medical professionals associated with Harrison County Hospital in nearby Corydon.
Indiana has become a “recognized leader” in bringing professional healthcare to medically underserved rural areas through telehealth technology, according to Don Kelso, executive director of the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA). “IRHA has become known as one of the national experts in rural telehealth delivery,” he added, noting, “Indiana is one of the few states that has successfully started and built momentum for rural telehealth.” IRSCN is part of IRHA’s statewide service offerings.
The new clinics will make available a new host of on-site medical services to students, said Chelminiak.
The official February 13 opening of the new telehealth clinics took place at 10 a.m. (local time) at the Crawford County High School (located at 1130 S State Road 66, Marengo, IN 47140).
Officials participating in the February 13 event at the Crawford County High School (south of Marengo) included; Michael Key, Superintendent of the Crawford County School Corporation; Donna Huff, corporation nurse; Kim Allen, corporation nurse; Brandon Johnson, Principal, Crawford County High School; Brandy Stroud, Principal, Crawford County Middle School; Amanda Wright, Principal, West Crawford Elementary School; Amy Etienne, Principal, South Crawford Elementary School; Tara Carothers, East Crawford Elementary School; Stephanie M. Greene, Physician Practice Coordinator, Harrison County Hospital; John McClanahan, Practice Manager, Harrison County Hospital; Kathleen Chelminiak, project director for IRSCN and the Indiana Rural Health Association; and others.
“Through these state-of-the-art clinics, rural students throughout Crawford County will have access to an Indiana licensed physician or provider from a hospital who will use high-tech and high-resolution diagnostic technology – such as an electronic otoscope or digital stethoscope – to digitally view ears, eyes and throat as needed during a student’s visit,” said Chelminiak.
Given that many of these students come from rural areas of these counties, these new clinics mean that parents will not have to leave work or drive to the school to pick their child up to see a doctor.
Funded by a grant from the Indiana Rural Health Association, the secure digital technology gives school nurses and medical providers the opportunity to use secure technology and real-time high-resolution images to help diagnose and treat students without an offsite school visit or a disruptive, time-consuming daytime trip to a hospital.
“Our goal is to provide high quality healthcare quickly and remove any barriers to accessing primary care,” said Chelminiak.
The medical professional or provider conducting the telehealth diagnostic session at the Crawford County schools can directly send follow-up information to the children’s physician and prescriptions directly to local pharmacies for pickup. To participate, children must have prior parent/guardian consent. Any fees are appropriately billed to insurance. No student will be denied coverage or treatment because of lack of ability to pay.
The high-tech telehealth equipment to be used by the rural clinics includes a high-tech imaging stethoscope, dermscope, and otoscope in addition to customized video equipment and software platforms. With the expansion, the participating Crawford County schools are now all formal participants in the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network (IRSCN).
Accessing health care in rural areas of Indiana is often more difficult because of factors like poverty, transportation and provider shortages.
“Through this innovative approach of incorporating telehealth into the school setting, we are confident children will receive quality healthcare that is more accessible to them than it ever has been before. Parents won’t have to take time off work, struggle with getting an appointment with their doctor or worry about transportation issues. They can now receive help in getting their children healthier, instead of the limitations they may face with seeking primary care during the school day,” said Kelso, IRHA executive director.
The new school-based telehealth clinic is funded through a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant made available to the Indiana Rural Health Association.
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About the Indiana Rural Health Association
The Indiana Rural Health Association was organized in 1997 and is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the health and well-being of rural populations in Indiana through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development. The strength of the organization is through the present diverse membership and the founding organizers who are committed to impacting the health of citizens through the identification of rural health issues and through advocacy roles in both the public and private sectors. IRHA membership is made up of 3,300 diverse individuals and organizations, making it the largest state rural health association in the nation, and a nationally recognized leader in rural health care. For more information, visit www.indianaruralhealth.org
About Harrison County Hospital
As an affiliate of Norton® Healthcare, we enjoy the best of both worlds – access to all the resources of the largest health system in Louisville, while retaining local ownership and leadership in daily operations. Harrison County Hospital is organized and operated to serve the health care needs, and improve the health, of the people of our community. This will be accomplished through the provision of adequate facilities, modern equipment, and a professionally trained and qualified medical staff necessary to assure quality medical/surgical care. The health care services provided may include acute inpatient and outpatient hospital services, home health care, long term care, health education, health screening, wellness, and rehabilitative care. All services will be provided irrespectively of race, color, creed, religion, age, sex, social or economic status. For more information, please visit https://hchin.org/