Charleston County School District has expanded school-based health offerings thanks to a combined community partnership that allows students to receive diagnosis and treatment through Medical University of South Carolina’s School-Based Health Program.
MUSC Health operates the School-Based Health Program across the district so students can receive healthcare in the school setting. Services include sick visits and chronic disease management. Additional services offered in select schools include diagnosis and management of ADHD, sports physicals, and specialized telemental health services. Importantly, a note is always sent to the student’s primary care provider as the service is meant to serve only as an additional layer of care.
According to Melissa Prendergast, Director of CCSD’s Nursing Services the district is a longtime partner with MUSC. “In particular, we have enjoyed a successful collaboration in providing interactive clinical interventions for students and families using Telehealth in 23 of our schools,” Prendergast said. “Our school nurses are keenly aware that many of our families struggle with access to health care for a number of reasons. Transportation is one of the major barriers to this access. The School-Based Health Program removes this barrier, and provide easy, timely access to care for our students. The ability to provide an onsite clinical intervention positively impacts our student’s wellbeing keeps them in school and results in improved academic performance.”
An MUSC Health nurse practitioner or a doctor examines the students with the assistance of the school nurse or telepresenter. Computers and monitors are used so that patients and providers can see each other via a mobile cart, which enables them to talk clearly and share information. At times special equipment is used, like electronic stethoscopes or a camera to look inside a child’s ears. Telehealth has transformed health care in rural provider offices, emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, and even correctional facilities.
Sanders-Clyde Elementary School Nurse Allison Wukovits said she uses the telehealth equipment quite frequently. She utilizes the delivery prescription service that is provided in select school as well.
“The doctor can prescribe medicine to the students, such as ADHD medicine,” said Wukovits. It is then delivered to the school and dispensed daily. The delivery aspect of the program helps our parents who don’t have access to immediate transportation.”
“Telehealth is helpful in a lot of schools for a lot of different situations,” said Prendergast. “In rural schools, where it is really hard to get kids to the doctor this has been very effective. Optimal health is crucial to improved academic success. We have witnessed the benefits.” This CCSD/MUSC collaboration includes Charleston Promise Neighborhood and Meeting Street Schools, which provide support to select schools.
The School-Based Health Program is supported in part by the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance. For more information about the MUSC School-Based Health Program contact Melissa Prendergast at (843) 745-2183 or melissa_prendergast@charleston .k12.sc.us.