Shawnee schools offering virtual doctor visits to sick students

The Shawnee Early Childhood Center is one of four schools in the district to implement this new technology. (Caroline Vandergriff/KOKH)

As schools around Oklahoma get ready to welcome kids back, Shawnee Public Schools is implementing new technology to help sick kids get better quicker and to save parents' time.

Four schools will have the ability to video conference with physician for quick, on-site care.

A call from the school nurse can often send parents into a panic, figuring out how to rearrange their schedules to take care of a sick kid.

"They won’t get them in to a doctor the same day, so now they’ve got to make an appointment, take another day off work," said LaRita Haffey, the nurse coordinator for the district.

Shawnee Public Schools hopes its new partnership with TEAMClinics will help ease that stress.

When a child who feels sick goes the nurse's office, parents can give permission for the nurse to video conference with a doctor.

Parents can join in on the virtual visit too, through an app.

"There’s a stethoscope and an otoscope that’s connected, so when we look in their ear or throat, then that shows on the parents phone and the monitor," said Haffey. "So the parent sees it as well as the doctor."

Then the doctor can make a diagnosis and call in a prescription, if it's necessary.

"Getting a student started as early as possible, if they do need medicine, is really important," said Dr. April Grace, the superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools.

The quick, on-site care will hopefully help students get back to the classroom as soon as possible. Dr. Grace says Shawnee is the first school district in Oklahoma to implement this type of program.

"It’s pretty innovative technology and we’re excited to try it and see how this works out for our families," Dr. Grace said. "We think it will be really beneficial, especially during flu and strep season."

A TEAMClinics visit is covered by most health insurance plans, but the company will cover the cost if a child doesn't have insurance. The service is also available to teachers and staff, so they don't have to miss a lot of time in the classroom just to see a doctor.

The district hopes to have the video conferencing set up for the first day of school, Aug. 16.

Virtual visits will be available at the Shawnee Early Childhood Center, Horace Mann Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School and Shawnee High School.

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