Mission Health Receives Duke Endowment Grant to Expand School-based Telehealth program
(Staff Reports, 1350 WZGM) ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Mission Center for Telehealth has received a two-year grant of more than $700,000 from The Duke Endowment to make comprehensive healthcare for children in rural communities more convenient and accessible by expanding the Health-e-Schools program, a collaborative telemedicine effort with The Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI).
Telehealth is the method of providing health care, health information, and health education across a distance. Using secure telecommunications technology physicians, nurses, and health care specialists can assess, diagnose and treat patients without requiring them to be physically present in the same location. In the Health-e-Schools program, a student or faculty member joined by a school nurse is connected to a healthcare provider at another location. School based telehealth provides access to acute care visits, primary care visits, and specialty visits. The collaborative approach between the Center for Rural Health Innovation and Mission Children’s Hospital allows patients to access providers with both organizations.
“School-based centers have been proven to also improve academic outcomes by increasing attendance, grade point averages and high school graduation rates. In our communities, it can be difficult for working parents to ensure their children receive preventative healthcare or follow-up care, leading to missed days of school and higher use of hospital emergency departments,” said Steve North, MD, MPH Outpatient Medical Director at the Mission Center for Telehealth and Founder and Medical Director of The Center for Rural Health Innovation. “Telehealth is emerging as the preferred solution to improve access to care and improve health outcomes, especially in rural communities.”
The Health-e-Schools program helps bring exceptional care to young patients by increasing classroom attendance for students and decreasing time away from work for the parent or student caregiver. With this grant, the program will increase access in public schools, further improving comprehensive health outcomes and academic outcomes and decreasing overall health expenditures. Mission Children’s Hospital and the Mission Center for Telehealth have been collaborating with the CRHI to provide pediatric cardiac care through its primary program, MY Health-e-Schools, since early 2014.
“This Duke Endowment grant will assist Mission Health in providing the best evidence-based care to patients regardless of where they may be located. It will help assure improved care, cost savings and convenience for patients,” said Bryan T. Arkwright, MHA, Director of the Mission Center for Telehealth. “The expansion of the Health-e-Schools program will help bring exceptional care to some of our most vulnerable, our children.”
The Duke Endowment grant is to be disbursed in two installments, $401,207 in 2014 and $300,000 in 2015. The MY Health-e-Schools established by the CRHI is currently available to approximately 4,000 school-age students in rural school districts in Mitchell and Yancey counties. By 2016, this endowment will allow the MY Health-e-Schools program to be available in at least 12 new public schools in another two rural school districts, reaching a potential 5,000 additional school-aged children. The first district targeted for implementation is McDowell County Schools.
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