Three new school-based telehealth clinics are opening in Indiana this week. The effort to increase access to healthcare for children in rural Indiana started when the states first school telehealth clinic opened four months ago in Elwood.
The three newest clinics are opening in the southern part of the state in Crothersville, Austin and Southwestern Jefferson County.
Indiana Rural Health Association community outreach manager Jennifer Hill says the aim is to reach low-income, rural areas.
“This falls in line with our mission overall,” says Hill, “but we’re focusing on the preventative part by starting in the school with children.”
The clinic trains a nurse who video conferences with a doctor using electronic diagnostic tools.
“To assess throat, nose, mouth, eyes, skin, ears, so for your basic acute symptoms,” says Hill. “That doctor can now diagnosis and call in prescriptions if need be.”
Hill says Indiana’s school telehealth program is unique because they use people at the school instead of contracting out.
“Where we have not only used school nurses and trained them, but we have a school like Crothersville that doesn’t even have a school nurse so we have trained an art teacher, a PE teacher, we trained secretaries,” says Hill.
The Austin clinic in Scott County will also have an additional on-site clinic where children can be seen for more serious symptoms. The school clinics are run through a partnership with the schools and other health partners.
Indiana Rural Health is planning to open more clinics in five more school systems by the end of next year.