HAMLET - A program harnessing technology to boost access to health care for Hoosier children in rural areas continues to grow. A new telehealth clinic will be dedicated this evening at the Oregon-Davis Elementary School in Hamlet, the fifth in a federally-funded initiative that already involves schools in Crothersville, Austin, Hanover and Elwood. The Starke County district has partnered with HealthLinc Community Health Centers and the Linton-based Indiana Rural Health Association on the on-site clinic, which includes customized video, software and instrumentation technology.

IRHA Rural Community Outreach Coordinator Hayley Ready says collaboration with the individual schools is important. "our school nurses are our biggest advocate and they can make or break the program and we so appreciate all the work that they're willing to do to help their kiddos," she tells Inside INdiana Business. "One of the biggest things we've learned is every one looks a little differently, every community has a little bit of a different need as far as what services are needed and we are just trying to provide all of the services that we can that would benefit those in those communities."

Ready says the program is not meant to replace primary care physicians, but rather to provide quicker access and remove barriers that children and parents face in rural areas. Challenges include distance, provider shortages, and reliable transportation. The goal is to launch about five teleheatlh clinics in smaller Indiana communities per year through 2020. To date, Ready says the program has served nearly 100 students at four schools through the first year.