(Joplin, MO) – McKinley Elementary third graders got a bird’s eye view of new technology that will bring telemedicine to their school as Freeman Health System demonstrated the mobile unit that will be placed in every school in the Joplin R-8 School District.
“School-based telemedicine is a win-win idea whose time has come,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s not meant to replace a child’s primary care physician — it’s strictly a service of convenience that helps keep children in school and parents at work. We know increased access to medical services results in healthier students and healthier communities.”
“Freeman’s school telemedicine program provides access to a healthcare provider directly from the school nurse’s office,” said Renee Denton, Freeman Neosho Hospital Chief Operating Officer. “The program supports parents, students, and school staff by offering an appointment with a medical provider so students don’t have to leave the school building and parents don’t have to leave work.”
A ribbon cutting also marked the start of the program. McKinley Elementary will be the first to go online with telemedicine next week. The program will deploy 17 units with medical-grade equipment in each school over the next year. Once completely implemented, the telemedicine program will benefit 8,700 students and staff in the Joplin school district.
“The benefits of having a telemedicine option in our schools are great,” said Dr. Melinda Moss, Joplin Schools superintendent. “The main benefit is the opportunity to keep the children and staff of Joplin Schools healthy. Having telemedicine will not only enhance health but also keep our students and teachers in the classroom, reducing the number of school days missed due to illness or injury by offering prompt and convenient access to a local Freeman medical provider from our school site.”
A demonstration showed how the typical examination works. The medical-grade attachments allow the provider to examine the patient’s eyes, ears, nose, and throat as well as listen to the patient’s heart tones, breath and lung sounds, and abdomen. A dermascope enables the provider to see any conditions of the skin, minor injuries, etc. This equipment makes it possible for a diagnosis to be made for any acute minor illnesses/injuries via telemedicine.
“Parents can participate in the telemedicine appointment via their cell phone, computer, or smart device, just as if they are physically present in the room with their child,” said Denton. “If medications are needed, the telemedicine provider will send the prescription to the pharmacy of choice.”
McKinley Elementary will be the first Joplin school where telemedicine will be available. By spring break in March, telemedicine carts will also arrive at Memorial Education Center, Soaring Heights Elementary, and Joplin High School.
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.
Lisa Olliges, Marketing & Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System