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Telehealth begins in 12 New Orleans public schools

Children's Hospital is sponsoring the program and billing the child's health insurance, so the schools have no cost.

NEW ORLEANS — Too many times a child who doesn't feel well at school has to be picked up by a parent and wait to get a doctor's appointment another day.

That can be difficult, especially for parents without a car, but now there is a new health solution in local schools.

"Why did you come to see the nurse?" asks Mildred Osborne Charter School Nurse, Treniese Monday.   

"Well, my stomachs hurting so bad," says sixth grader Candiz. 

Candiz is showing what would happen if she really had a stomach ache. 

"We're going to test for strep throat, things like that, of that nature," answers a healthcare provider on a computer screen. Answering the Telemedicine call on the other end is the medical team at Children's Hospital. 

Nurse Monday was one of the first people trained to use the new NOLA Public Schools/Children's Hospital Telehealth partnership. Already she's used the new program twice for headaches.

"[The doctor] was able to do a verbal order of over-the-counter Motrin and they were able to go back to class, versus mom picking them up," Monday explained.

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Nurse Monday says 75 percent of parents gave permission to use the new tool for their children. So far, 12 schools in the NOLA Public Schools system have jumped at the chance.  

"We were expecting maybe two or three to be interested for the pilot this year, and the interest was way higher than we ever anticipated," said Dr. Kelli Jordan, the Director of School Support and Improvement at NOLA Public Schools. 

Children's Hospital is sponsoring the program, billing the child's health insurance so the schools have no cost.

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"Fewer sick days over all, fewer absences from school, and a quicker return to school, and I think that's important in keeping the kids in school. It also allows you to stay out of the emergency department for minor things," said Dr. Aaron Martin, a Pediatric Urologist and Telemedicine Director at Children's Hospital. He is also an LSUHSC Associate Professor of Urology. 

Nurse Monday asks fifth grader Ramsey to stick his tongue out. He shows us how the doctors and nurses can see throats, inner ears, and listen to lungs, hearts and get temperatures and blood pressure in real time using instruments that deliver pictures to the Telehealth doctor or nurse practitioner. Parents can be conferences into the virtual visit as well, without leaving work.

The plan is to extend the program to more schools in the future and also add behavioral and mental heath exams.

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