Benton school becomes pilot for telemedicine through Children's Hospital

Benton school becomes pilot for telemedicine through Arkansas Children's Hospital. (Photo KATV)

Angie Grant Elementary School has been chosen to be the pilot for telemedicine through Arkansas Children's Hospital, or ACH. After recently passed legislation, students in Arkansas will now be able to see a doctor without ever leaving school.

Emma Willis is a kindergartner at Angie Grant and recently had an ear infection. Instead of being checked out of school to go to the doctor, she was able to see a pediatrician through a computer in her nurse's office.

"I mean when I was a kid we got two Tylenol and were told to lay down," Jason Willis, Emma's dad, said.

Willis said the school had called him about her ear infection. He said they told him Emma had already been looked at by a doctor and a prescription had been filled.

"I feel like the school wants more answers than just hey, your kids sick, come get them. It's your kids sick, here's why, hope you get him or her back as soon as possible," Willis said.

"It's utilizing technology to keep children healthy," Dr. Robert Steele, pediatrician at Children's Hospital, said.

Steele told KATV through telemedicine he is able to examine rashes, common colds, and Emma's ear infection for free. Because Children's is a non-profit organization and doing this as community benefit work, they don't have to bill parents or insurance companies at this time.

All parents have to pay for at this time is the medicine and any future follow up with their personal primary care physician.

ACH also was awarded two USDA grants worth $600,000.

"There are a lot of things we can do. A lot of tools that we can use and the high resolution and the ability to connect like that, you can actually get a quite bit done," Steele said.

This also has the ability to add a parent to the conversation through video or audio, and reach rural communities in Arkansas.

"It's communities that often don't have a doctor right there in their town and are having to travel to the nearest physician," Steele said.

ACH told Channel 7 they expect more than 40 schools to have the same program by the next school year.

Click here for more on ACH's telemedicine page.

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