Good Samaritan Improving Health of Children in Local Schools

Good Samaritan has recently taken on two new ventures that will focus on the health and well being of students in local schools. One focus for the hospital is the mental health of students, and the other will introduce virtual care to elementary students at Vigo Elementary.

The Samaritan Center at Good Samaritan recently met with superindendents in Knox and Martin counties in Indiana to discuss current services and future opportunities to provide additional behavioral staff to the schools in these counties. In 2018, the Samaritan Center provided five full-time employees to deliver behavioral health in the schools. This year, they are increasing the number of employees to 16, which will include Family Care Specialists, Community Resource Specialists and Therapists.

The employees within the schools will meet with students and families during the school year, and also through the summer, to ensure progress is being made for the next upcoming school year. Students will be seen at the school after an initial evaluation meeting with parents. These in-school meetings allow students and their parents to not have to miss school and work for office appointments.

“We had great success last year with our five employees within the schools and felt there was a need to increase our services so we can help more children,” said Kristi Scherer, Executive Director of the Samaritan Center. “We have multiple success stories and hope to increase those stories and build on that success.”

Also arriving at an area school is telehealth care. Vigo Elementary School in Vincennes is now working with Good Samaritan Pediatrics providing virtual care to students.

“As the superintendent of the Vincennes Community School Corporation, I am excited for our students and parents,” said Greg Parsely. “Working with Good Samaritan in a partnership allows us to offer an additional service beyond what many of us think of when it comes to the school setting. Our goal is to provide the best education possible to our students and their attendance has a great effect on their education. Keeping the students in school will ensure that we are meeting that goal.”

In the event that a child is sent to the school nurse, the nurse will assess the child and determine whether or not they believe the child needs to be seen by a provider. The nurse will then call a parent of the child to receive their consent on whether or not they would like their child to be picked up from school or seen virtually by a provider. Once consent is given, the school nurse will then make an appointment with the pediatric office at Good Samaritan. The school’s health office will be equipped with diagnostic digital equipment, including a digital stethoscope. The software used by both Good Samaritan and the school corporation will allow the school nurse to perform preliminary steps before the appointment.

Once the provider is online and can virtually assess the child, notes and prescribed medications, if warranted, will be sent to the school nurse. When the virtual visit is complete, the school nurse will then call the parent to inform them of the diagnosis and next steps that need to be taken. This service is billed though insurance, including co-pays, and no child will be denied services due to not having insurance.

“I have already had students and parents in my office wanting to use the service,” said Sara Schutz, RN, Vincennes Community School Corporation Head Nurse. “I foresee telehealth being very beneficial to our working parents as they will not have to leave work to take their child to the doctor for something that does not require them to stay home from school. If there is a student that can stay at school but could benefit from being seen by a provider, telehealth appointments will be same-day and there will be no waiting for the next available appointment at a provider’s office.

Schutz also mentions that many teachers have children of their own that attend Vigo Elementary. If their own child needs to be seen via telehealth, it can all be done in the school nurse’s office and the teacher will not have to leave the classroom, which then also benefits the students in their classroom.

“So many of us have busy lives and cannot always leave work to go pick up a sick child and take then to their provider’s office,” said Mickey Pagan, Business Development Specialist at Good Samaritan. “We expect great success and are excited to potentially offer telehealth services to other schools in our community.”

A ribbon cutting celebrating this new service will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at 9:15 a.m. (EST) at Vigo Elementary in Vincennes.

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