Hamilton County school nurses use telemedicine to treat asthma, - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County school nurses use telemedicine to treat asthma, other illnesses

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Less than twenty years ago, if your child needed medical attention at a Hamilton County school, they were out of luck. There were only six nurses countywide, serving more than seventy schools.  Thankfully, almost every school has a nurse now, plus some extra support. 

By far, the number one student health issue is asthma.  Students can now literally breathe easier thanks to more medical personnel, and more plentiful tools and supplies, including nebulizers and inhalers.  However, Hamilton County's student nurse manager Sheryl Fletcher says the additional nurses have made the great difference, in addition to the use of telemedicine.

Telemedicine offers parents and their pediatricians a new tool to keep children from having to go to the emergency room for routine care.  This fall, five telemedicine clinics will open in Hamilton County schools as a result of a partnership between the Pediatric Health Improvement Coalition, Hamilton County Department of Education, and Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. 

Five elementary schools in Hamilton County are currently using telemedicine.  Telemedicine allows the school nurse to talk with a nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger through a secure video link.  With special equipment, the nurse practitioner can listen to the child’s lungs and heart, as well as look in his ears and mouth from across the city. After the visit, the nurse practitioner calls the parents and the pediatrician, ensuring that everyone stays up to date with the child’s care. The schools are Orchard Knob Elementary, East Ridge Elementary, Woodmore Elementary, East Side Elementary and East Lake Elementary.

School officials stress the importance of each child's family filling out the registration form, which will enable the school nurse to provide these services.  It is very important to have each family's contact information, and each child's medical history on file.

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David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.

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