GREENE COUNTY - Accessing health care in rural parts of Indiana is often difficult without making a significant investment in time and travel, and that challenge may be even more burdensome at schools in rural counties. That's why more schools in outlying areas are using high-tech equipment to connect with a medical professional.

One such example is Eastern Greene Elementary in the southwest region of the state. A new telehealth clinic has opened to serve that school and the neighboring middle school.

“Having this secure, state-of-the-art connectivity to My Virtual Clinic adds a new dimension of service for our students here at the elementary and middle schools,” said Sharon Abts, principal of Eastern Greene Elementary. 

Students will now be able to see a doctor or medical provider through secure video-conference connectivity. The clinic uses a digital stethoscope and other sensory tools to help the health provider make a diagnosis. School nurses and school staff have received several hours of training on how to utilize the equipment. 

The medical provider can send follow-up information to the children’s physician and prescriptions directly to local pharmacies for pickup. 

“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 receive help in getting their children healthier, instead of the limitations they may face with seeking primary care during the school day,” said Don Kelso, Indiana Rural Health Association executive director.

Greene County area schools have been working with the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network to develop a county-wide telehealth clinic network. It’s a service of Greene County General Hospital.

“This ongoing expansion of services to Greene County students continues to extend our professional services in a positive and cost-effective way,” said Brenda Reetz, chief executive officer, GCGH. “My Virtual Clinic health professionals will provide timely and quality services in this innovative program.” 

To participate, children must have prior parent/guardian consent. The school says any fees are billed to insurance.