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Rural elementary school using telemedicine

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For people living in a rural area, a trip to the doctor can take a lot of work. Sometimes people have to travel out of town, miss school and miss work. But elementary school students in one community no longer have that problem.

"With us being a rural community, we have no hospital and two doctor's offices here," said June Cowart, a clinic coordinator at Turner County Elementary in Georgia.

Some parents have to take off work so they can take their kids to a doctor, which sometimes means a trip out of town.

"A lot of times these parents don't have resources to go to Atlanta or Augusta, but we can bring Atlanta and Augusta to Turner County," said Cowart

Thanks to telemedicine, students at Turner County Elementary don't even have to step out the door to see the doctor.

Tift Regional Medical Center has been involved in telemedicine for eight years and realized how much Turner County would benefit from a system like this. Tift Regional donated the telemedicine cart last month, and so far it's been a huge success. 

"The students we've seen, we've seen them for about 30 minutes then we send them back to class," said Jeff Robbins, Director of Telehealth at TRMC.

It's run the same way as a doctor's office.

"We can look at their ears, their nose, their throat and then we have a stethoscope that's hooked up on our end and the doctor's end and they can actually hear the heart beats and the breathing sounds," said Robbins.

School nurses have access to 300 physicians around the state who see a clear picture on their screen no matter where they're located.

"There are tools where we can look in their ears the doctor on the other end can see the same picture we have," said Robbins.

That means kids stay in school.

"The kid doesn't go home with sniffles and miss three or four days of school. We can keep the kids in school, have the medicines delivered and have kids back in class in an hour," said Cowart.

And teachers and parents don't have to miss work.

"We expect when we are done with all of our phases that school systems will come and visit Turner County and see what they've done," said Cowart.

Turner County Elementary school is the first to try out the system, but they won't be the last. They plan to get a camera into the high school next.

Eventually, they hope to have one of these systems in all of the schools in Turner County. They are also looking at teledentistry as well.

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