While at school last year, Peach County High School student Aden felt pain in his ear. His mom scheduled an on-campus visit through Atrium Health Navicent School-Based Virtual Care.
If not for the program, launched last year in partnership with Peach County Schools, Aden’s mom said she would have taken him to an after-hours pediatrician after work, delaying care.
With the school-based virtual care program, “the interruption was minimal,” said Aden’s mom, Joni New, family engagement coordinator at Kay Road Elementary.
The partnership recently celebrated a successful first year of providing access to a virtual visit with a health care provider on Peach County Schools’ campuses for the school district’s students, teachers and school staff. The program acts as an extension of services provided by established school nurses and offers near-immediate access to more advanced care.
“Providing access to health care on Peach County Schools’ campuses means that in addition to receiving care faster, in many cases students, teachers and school staff are able to quickly return to class,” said Atrium Health Navicent President Delvecchio Finley. “Children are our future, and their access to quality health care and continued education are vital to community health, not just today, but in the years to come.”
In its first year, the program recorded 461 virtual visits. More than 60 percent of the students, teachers and staff who have used the service were able to return to class after their visit.
“Peach County Schools is proud to partner with Atrium Health Navicent to address access to health care for our students,” said Gentry Trice, director of Student Services for Peach County Schools. “We are excited to provide this opportunity for our students to receive health care services without interruption to instructional opportunities.”
Atrium Health Navicent School-Based Virtual Care allows students who previously would have been sent home without treatment an opportunity to stay at school while seeing a health care provider for common symptoms such as sore throats, coughs and colds, ear pain, rashes, allergies, stomachaches, headaches and more.
The provider completes a full assessment with a medical assistant facilitating the process. Using a high-quality camera, they can look into the patient’s ears, nose and throat, and listen to their lungs and heart.
Parents may join a virtual visit — either from school or another location — while students remain in a spot isolated from other students. In the event that the parent is a non-native English speaker, there is an interpreter to translate what the provider is saying, and ensure the parent understands next steps.
New said a camera was used to check Aden’s ears during his visit and she was able to take a look.
“It was cool because I could see what they could see — even at the doctor’s office you don’t get to see inside your child’s ear and throat,” she said.
New said Aden used the virtual care program a second time and was diagnosed with having strep throat.
“Because I work in the school system, Aden came to my school for the virtual visit because he felt more comfortable there. They looked at his throat and did a swab while he was there,” she said.
After being diagnosed by the provider, if a prescription medicine is needed, the provider can send a prescription to a pharmacy and let the parent know if the child is well enough to stay in school or needs to go home. If the student is able to return to class, parents aren’t required to leave work or other obligations.
“The process is so easy and convenient, especially for parents,” New said. “Just to be able to get in right away, when we had time, and figure out what was going on, it gives me peace of mind.”
For more information about Peach County Virtual Care, visit navicenthealth.org.