Presbyterian, UCPS partner to put Telemedicine in schools

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 06:58 PM

If the pilot project is successful, every school in the Union County Public School system will be able to instantly connect with a nurse or doctor through Presbyterian Hospital. 

The Telemedicine cart, made by Rubbermaid, is part of a seven-year partnership between UCPS and Presbyterian Hospital. The carts allow medical data to be transferred from one site to another, they have many portals so that various pieces of equipment can be hooked plugged in and used and they are mobile thanks to wheels and a battery life. 

The cart also allows faculty to connect with an assigned nurse or doctor through Presbyterian Hospital with no wait time, Carolyn White, director of student services and testing said at a Tuesday night Union County Board of Education meeting. 

"It's almost like sitting in the room with a doctor or a nurse," White told the board during a presentation. 

The line is dedicated, so there is no danger of violating the HIPAA privacy laws or a student's confidentiality. The doctor will be able to advise if the student can return to class or should see a doctor. If the student should see a doctor, their parents will be called. The parents will then take them to a doctor if they choose. If the parents do not have a doctor, Presbyterian can set up an appointment for them for that day. 

Each cart is about $30,000. The Braswell Trust, a local philanthropic group, donated $60,000 to allow the school to pilot the program with two carts in the Forest Hills cluster. 

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with the project.

Legal Counsel Michele Morris will next meet with attorneys for Presbyterian Hospital to make sure the school system cannot be sued for malpractice. 

Superintendent Mary Ellis said at the meeting that she hopes the technology can also be used to tackle the problem of mental health. 

Whether or not the carts will appear across the district, depends on their performance in the pilot project.