Members to consider ER program

A proposal that would virtually bring an emergency room staff into three Richmond County schools will be among the issues before school board members in today's committee meetings.

 

The idea is to start a pilot program between the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth and three Richmond County schools that have a large population of students with medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Using televisions, a computer and cameras, the program would electronically link the schools to the pediatric emergency room staff at Medical College of Georgia, allowing trained school staff to conference with an MCG nurse or physician in assessing a student's condition. The schools have not been determined.

Paula Guy, executive director of the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth, said the teleconferencing model has been implemented in several other school systems, including some in Texas, Ohio and California. A program in Richmond County would be the first in Georgia.

"We're really excited about it," Ms. Guy said, adding that teleconferencing can help schools with tight budgets by providing access to medical professionals when there might be a shortage of school nurses. Richmond County has 30 school nurses, some of whom rotate between two schools.

Ms. Guy said trained school staff, not necessarily nurses, can operate the Telehealth equipment. In a letter to school officials, Ms. Guy said that her group could obtain the needed equipment for two schools if the school system could purchase what's necessary for a third school. The letter says that Ms. Guy's group could purchase equipment for about $15,000 but didn't say what the school system's share might be. The school system would be offered a reduced $375 monthly cost for the teleconferencing service.

In other committee action, the school board also will again address a proposal aimed at banning some personal appliances in schools. The idea is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the school system's energy costs.

The policy would ban refrigerators, space heaters, microwave ovens, coffee makers, lamps or decorative lights (allowed in offices only) or any other personal electrical appliances that aren't property of the Richmond County School System or aren't needed for work or instructional purposes.

The committee meetings start at 4 p.m. at the board's main office at 864 Broad St.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

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