Arkansas Children's Hospital awarded USDA grant for school-based telemedicine

Little Rock-based Arkansas Children's Hospital is implementing telemedicine programs in 42 schools with the help of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service grant, according to Magnolia Reporter.

The program will allow students who visit the nurse's office to receive a second opinion, by connecting school nurses with pediatricians at Arkansas Children's Hospital. These physicians will help the school nurse evaluate and examine the student. After the consultation, the pediatrician will send a review of their instructions to the student and another copy to the student's primary care physician.

"A lot of parents use the school nurse as sort of their first line of healthcare," Carla Sparks, rural outreach coordinator for the Child Outreach and Advocacy Division of Arkansas Children's Hospital, told Magnolia Reporter. "The nurse can see them and tell them perhaps what's wrong with them or that they need to see a doctor. But we'd like to get care to kids through pediatricians, which is the most appropriate approach."

Ms. Sparks said the hospital has not yet determined how to reimburse for these services, according to Magnolia Reporter. The parents, rather than the school, will be billed through their own insurance.

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