Worcester launching telehealth program at Pocomoke High

POCOMOKE CITY, Md. – A trip to the nurse is about to look very different at one Eastern Shore school. Worcester County Public Schools is getting ready to launch a telehealth program in one of its most rural areas.

“Students or families won’t have to travel outside of the school building in order to get excellent health care and that can be huge,” says Jenifer Rayne, the principal of Pocomoke High School.

This spring, Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) and Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) are rolling out a telehealth program. It’s something new to the county and officials say Pocomoke High is the perfect place to start.

“Our population is about 70 percent poverty. Again we are a very rural community. We do our best to go over and beyond providing different opportunities for students so they can come to school be healthy and be ready to learn,” says Rayne.

The cart will be installed in the school nurse’s office and parents can also be involved in the process.

“They can make the call in to AGH. The provider will be set up on one end, the student on the other, the nurse can still be with them. The parent can be called on their telephone and they can be right on their telephone. They don’t even need to leave work,” says Colleen Wareing, the vice president of Patient Care Services at Atlantic General Hospital.

“Many of our parents in the Pocomoke community are working full time jobs or multiple jobs. So having to leave work to go take care of a sick child or take a sick child to the doctor can often be a barrier to that child’s health,” says Tamara Mills, the coordinator of instruction at Worcester County Public Schools.

Officials tell 47 ABC their hope is that this program improves access to health care while making sure students don’t miss out on school.

“Instead of maybe waiting a few days to get to the doctor because schedules can be extremely busy, and possibly missing a few days of schools, they have the opportunity with family permission to access health care right within the walls of our very own school,” says Rayne.

A virtual care cart can cost anywhere from 5-thousand to 20-thousand dollars. But officials say grants are helping Worcester County put this program in place. They also tell 47 ABC, that if they see good results after this spring they’ll start looking at other schools that could benefit from telehealth.

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