Florence school offers virtual doctor appointments to sick students

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – One Florence school is offering virtual appointments to see a doctor if their family can’t afford one.

South Florence High School has a new partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance.

The MUSC nurse treats students at South Florence High School through the telehealth program which helps students prevent missing school and parents from leaving work to take children to the doctor.

“All students miss is 20 minutes of class,” says Principal Carol Hill.

The system is simple. When a student is sick or in pain, they visit school nurse Charmeon Cooper. She evaluates the illness or injury, and if the child should be seen by a nurse practitioner or doctor, nurse Cooper contacts the parent for permission. The school nurse then schedules an appointment for the child to be seen by an MUSC nurse or doctor through a virtual visit.

“Students that don’t have a primary care physician or spend countless hours in the ER for non-emergent type illnesses are quickly seen, said Cooper. “They don’t have to miss school parents don’t have to miss work and parents can get medication as prescribed if deemed necessary.”

For the past year, Audrey Timmons trained with telehealth to use the equipment like the computer, monitors, stethoscopes, and camera to look into a child’s ears.

“I am the arms for the nurse practitioner,” explains South Florence High School telehealth presenter Audrey Timmons. “I examine the patient and she (MUSC nurse practitioner) will listen. I help the student get the help that they need.”

If the student needs a prescription, the MUSC healthcare provider can send it to a nearby pharmacy.

“The hope is to take some of that stress off of families as much as possible,” says Hill.

The partnership with telehealth and MUSC began treating students in January at no cost to the school.

Kelli Garber, MUSC Lead Nurse Practitioner said, “The funding comes from the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, which is state funding.”

Students with Medicaid don’t have to pay anything for the program. Families with private insurance coverage vary with copay and deductibles.

So far, about 100 students are signed up for the program. School officials are evaluating how the program performs before expanding it to other schools within the district.

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