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Innovative Rural School-Based Telehealth Clinic Formally Opens at South Ripley Elementary School in Versailles

Posted by: Tina Elliott  | August 1, 2018

VERSAILLES, Indiana – Students at South Ripley Community Schools can now benefit from innovative high-tech telehealth as part of the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network’s expansion. “This state-of-the-art digital diagnostic capacity provides a critical service to our South Ripley students and community,” said Rob Moorhead, Superintendent of the South Ripley Community School Corporation. “This proven and secure telehealth technology matches our students up with the excellent medical services at Margaret Mary Health, providing students and parents with a variety of important benefits.”

To celebrate this critical clinic opening, a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place Thursday, August 2 at 5 p.m. EDT at the school with state and local education and agency officials. The South Ripley Elementary School is located at 1568 S. Benham Road, Versailles, IN 47042.

The new South Ripley service uses state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment and software to allow medical professionals to directly provide healthcare services to students. This is achieved through digital diagnostic equipment and sensors transmitting through secure broadband connectivity from the school to a medical facility, Margaret Mary Health.

“This new technology provides a new level of medical services that we can provide to our students onsite – a parent can connect to their child’s medical visit without leaving work, and we can address acute medical care issues as they arise within the school day,” said Marie Menchhofer, health coordinator and school nurse at South Ripley. “This is one more way I can help make sure our students stay healthy,” she added.

The new service available in Versailles allows students to be seen and receive initial diagnosis/treatment from a medical professional with minimal interruptions. Parents do not have to leave work in the middle of the day. With this technology, healthcare professionals are able to evaluate, diagnose and provide initial treatment with the help of an on-site school nurse such as Mrs. Menchhofer. The medical professional or provider conducting the telehealth diagnostic session can also directly send follow-up information to the children’s physician and prescriptions directly to local pharmacies for pickup.

The ribbon-cutting will include a live demonstration of the high-tech telehealth equipment to be used by the rural clinic, including a high-tech imaging stethoscope, dermscope, and otoscope in addition to customized video equipment and software platforms. The Ripley County facility is now part of the Indiana Rural Schools Clinic Network (IRSCN).

Participants at the ribbon-cutting will include Rob Moorhead, South Ripley Community School Corporation Superintendent; Tim Putnam, CEO of Margaret Mary Health Hospital; Marie Menchhofer, RN, South Ripley School Nurse; Don Kelso, Executive Director of the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA); Kathleen Chelminiak, IRHA project director; and others.

The South Ripley telehealth facility is also working with Geralyn Litzinger, Director of Community Health, Margaret Mary Health.

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.

South Ripley partnered with Margaret Mary Health locally to submit a grant for funding and program support from the Indiana Rural Health Association to establish this School-based Telehealth Clinic. The School-based Telehealth Clinic will also service the telehealth portion with trained medical providers available to help students experiencing acute health symptoms.

Telemedicine is health care delivered remotely, often through video-conferencing equipment and patients can even get some prescriptions without an in-person visit if the student’s guardian consents to the treatment. South Ripley students will have the opportunity to be seen by a healthcare provider who is miles away while staying at school reducing barriers for rural students when it comes to quality healthcare.

“Our goal is to get students healthier quicker and remove any barriers to accessing primary care” said Kathleen Chelminiak of the IRSCN.

The students at South Ripley will now be able to see a doctor or medical provider through a video-conference, and the set-up includes a digital stethoscope and other tools to help a linking provider make a diagnosis. School nurses and related staff have received several hours of training on how to utilize the equipment.

Accessing health care in rural areas of Indiana is 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 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 focus on getting their children healthier and not the limitations they often face with seeking primary care during the school day,” said Don 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. Community members interested in attending the ribbon cutting event are welcome to attend.

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About the South Ripley Community School Corporation

The committed and caring staff at South Ripley Community School Corporation has helped the district to achieve an “A” rating from the Indiana Department of Education and earn AdvancED Accreditation as a Quality School System from the North Central Association. South Ripley schools are focused on integrating technology into the classroom to prepare its students for success in the 21st Century. From its award-winning FFA Chapter to the schools’ highly successful athletic teams, South Ripley offers a wide array of stellar programs. The system has a comprehensive list of extracurricular activities to which students can belong including plays, publications, videography and more. For more information, please visit http://www.sripley.k12.in.us/

About Margaret Mary Health

Located in Batesville, Indiana, Margaret Mary Health is a not-for-profit, critical access hospital providing both inpatient and outpatient services. Employing nearly 750 team members, the hospital has experienced significant growth through the years, adding oncology and rehab centers, as well as expanding access to primary and minor care in nearby communities. MMH serves a population of more than 65,000 residents in Ripley, Franklin and surrounding counties. MMH is proud to be recognized, on both the state and national levels, as a leader in health care. The hospital staff believes its many awards, certifications and accreditations demonstrate Margaret Mary Health’s commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit https://www.mmhealth.org/

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

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