EOMC debuts telemed program

Stock photo provided by Pixabay
Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

“We see it as a win-win for everyone involved. We’re excited about it, we really are. We encourage parents to get involved in it,” Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center CEO Bob Carter said Friday after EOMC debuted its new telemedicine program for Poteau and Howe public school districts.

With telemedicine, an EOMC nurse practitioner can examine ill children during school with the assistance of the school nurse through the use of video conferencing and medical equipment.

Carter said EOMC is the first hospital in the state to implement the program, although there is talk of another hospital readying to supply it. He said the program is popular along the East Coast and in several other states.

“Everything we’ve been able to read and research, we have the potential to cut school absences by about 43 percent with this program, which will help the students tremendously with their learning,” Carter said. The program is open not only to the students at these two districts, but also its faculty and staff.

Carter said although it allows students to remain at school to be evaluated, parents are welcome to come to the school and sit on the telemedicine visit.

“It’s an opportunity to get [the students] in front of a provider to see if they need to go home or go back to class without infecting kids,” he said. They began to work on the program back in April and May. Carter said they hope to eventually put the program in all 17 schools in the county in the next four to five years, although it will be up to the school districts if they choose to implement it.

Carter said if the program takes off, the hospital hopes to bring in additional nurse practitioners to focus primarily on telemedicine.

“Poteau alone has 2,300 students,” Carter said. “If 50 percent of those students’ parents agree to do telemed evaluations if they need it, that’s a lot of patients, especially during the flu seasons.”

Telemedicine does not replace regular primary care providers. Parents and guardians must enroll the students, who have or will bring home a packet of enrollment forms. EOMC said enrollment forms are also available on the school websites.

Amy Lomon, EOMC marketing director, said an example of how the programs work is, “If a teacher is on blood pressure meds and you have to see the doctor every few months to get your prescription, that can be done at the school clinic. The script will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice, and you can pick it up at the end of the day.”

Another example: “Along those same lines, children that have to have behavioral meds that are required to see a doc monthly for adjustments can also take care of these visits with telehealth.” Lomon said a large complaint the hospital heard when visiting with school administrators is of students who are in need of medicine were not being taken to the doctor monthly to adjust dosages. “Sometimes moms and dads can’t take off work, and the children are the ones that suffer.”

Carter said if anyone is interested to see how the program works, or would like to see the equipment, the hospital is willing to show them.

“We’re very excited to provide the service,” Carter said. “This is what community hospitals are for, to provide this type of service to the community. We’re happy to do it. What we need to make this successful is we need parents to support it, otherwise it will be a service we cannot sustain.”