5 reasons this district is expanding access to telehealth
Leaders in Garland ISD in the Dallas suburbs were grateful to have telehealth in place when other providers shut down during the initial COVID outbreak in March 2020.
They have been working to expand the service ever since to bring free healthcare to families who face transportation issues and other challenges in reaching a physical provider, says Renee Kotsopoulous, Garland ISD’s director of health services.
“Telehealth cuts down on the amount of time students are out of school,” Kotsopoulous says. “Kids who aren’t in school don’t learn, and they if don’t have good physical and mental health, they’re not going to be successful when they’re in school.”
The mental health counseling component of telehealth may also be enticing to district leaders looking to spend stimulus funding on social-emotional programs.
Garland ISD’s provider, Hazel Health, specializes in working with districts and now offers appointments service outside the regular school day. Students who have remained remote this school year can also access the service.
Here are the many reasons Garland ISD has become a bigger believer in telehealth:
1. Fewer 911 calls. Prior to adding telehealth, district nurses had to regularly call 911 because of students having asthma attacks. These were often students whose families weren’t able to refill medicines due to various challenges.
Those students can now get their medications prescribed during telehealth appointments at school.
Garland ISD’s telehealth provider also follows up with students to ensure the asthma is under control, Kotsopoulous says.
2. Before- and after-school access. Hazel Health now offers appointments a few hours before school so families can determine whether a child with certain symptoms should go to school.
The telehealth visit can help determine whether the child has only a headache or more concerning symptoms of COVID, says Josh Golomb, Hazel’s founder and CEO.
“We can make sure a parent isn’t sending a child who shouldn’t be going to school but also isn’t keeping a child home who should be going in for in-person learning, Golomb says.
3. More effective mental health treatment. This may be enticing to district leaders looking to spend stimulus funding on social-emotional initiatives to help students cope with COVID-related trauma.
Telehealth fills in gaps for districts that don’t have enough counselors to support all students. Also, telehealth visits have actually reduced the stigma around seeking mental health care, Kotsopoulous says.
Students may only need one visit to get some concerns off their chest while others have access to multiple sessions, she says.
4. Wellness checks. Hazel Health will conduct wellness visits to begin establishing relationships with students and their families.
This encourages students to open up about issues such as depression or bullying.
5. Faster treatment. Telehealth can fill gaps when students needed treatment face delays in getting doctor’s appointments. For instance, it may take a student weeks to see an allergist.
Telehealth providers can see the student during the school day and write the necessary prescriptions.
“A student with a routine eye infection that should take one day to resolve could wait a week to see a doctor,” Kotsopoulous says.”With telehealth, they can get a prescription within a day.”
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