Nearly two months after launching a pilot program in Elwood, the Linton-based Indiana Rural Health Association is expanding its school-based telehealth clinic program to southern Indiana. The Southern Indiana Rural Health Clinic will cover Austin, Crothersville and Southwest Jefferson County Schools, beginning in January.
The clinic is part of the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network, which IRHA Executive Director Don Kelso says gives parents and physicians the chance to connect when a student visits the school nurse. The on-site school clinic will be located in Austin and students can either been seen by doctors there or via telehealth.
"When the child is sick, they will go to the school nurse. The nurse makes the decision on whether they need to be seen by a doctor. If so, the parent is called and asked if they want to join the visit," says Jenni Hill, IRSCN program manager. "During the telehealth session, the nurse is basically the doctor’s ‘hands’ and will operate the non-invasive scopes and other diagnostic equipment. The doctor then can diagnose and call in prescriptions as needed."
The IRHA launched the state’s first school-based telehealth clinic in Elwood in last month and plans to establish clinics in six more school systems throughout the state over the next year. Kelso says the goal of creating this type of virtual consultation is to "address acute primary care and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits."
The network says launching this telehealth initiative is expected to help create best practices for all Indiana rural school clinics.