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Providing health care to our smallest patients

Shannon and several area schools have partnered together with the mission to provide convenient care to the pediatric population of the community. With the use of new technology, students will now be able to be seen by a pediatric provider from the comfort of their school nurse's office.

The Shannon School Telemedicine Program began last fall at Goliad Elementary to pilot the program during the first year. For the 2020–2021 school year, Shannon is committed to partnering with school districts within the region and further expanding the program. Shannon is the first health care provider in West Texas to implement a school-based telemedicine program.

"At Shannon, we understand the importance of having a healthy child," says Anna Pittman, RN, MSN, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Officer for Shannon Clinic. "We also understand that it isn't always easy to take time off work whenever your child suddenly gets sick at school. With the School Telemedicine Program, your child can get the care they need without making a trip to an urgent care and having to sit in a waiting room."

How it works

Whenever a child is feeling ill and needs further care than a school nurse can provide, they are able to be seen virtually through an on-demand medical exam provided by TytoCare—a handheld exam kit and app that facilitates a video visit between patient and provider.

"Telemedicine is exciting technology for patients," Pittman says. "Individuals are sometimes concerned about not having a doctor physically present to assess their symptoms, as they would during a hands-on examination. TytoCare bridges this gap by providing physicians the tools to assess a patient as if they were physically present."

Each TytoCare kit contains a device with an exam camera. Additionally there is a thermometer; a blood pressure cuff; an otoscope adaptor for examining the ears; a stethoscope adaptor for heart, lung and bowel sounds; and a tongue depressor adaptor for the throat. With the help of the school nurse, these tools enable the physician to see, hear and conduct a true assessment for acute illnesses.

After an assessment is complete, the provider is able to prescribe medicine, if needed, to the family's preferred pharmacy. All information from the visit will then be shared with the parent or guardian, as well as saved in Shannon's MyChart patient portal.

Providing peace of mind

"An important aspect parents should keep in mind is that these visits are not meant for chronic conditions that need to be managed," Pittman says. "This program is designed to diagnose and treat illnesses that you would normally visit Urgent Care for, such as flu, colds, strep throat, fever and rashes."

If the provider sees the child through the telemedicine program and feels at any time that the patient needs to have a further, in-person visit, they will recommend the most appropriate health care setting.

"As a parent myself, I have seen that children are going to school sick," Pittman says. "This means they are exposing not only other children, but faculty as well, to acute illnesses. Our goal is to provide convenient access and exceptional health care to our smallest patients."

If a parent or guardian is interested in learning more about this program, they are encouraged to discuss current or future availability with their child's school.

Please visit shannonhealth.com/schoolhealth to learn more about the program.

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