COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare Network has been awarded a $297,419 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for up to four years to bring telehealth services to the school-based health care setting.
The grant-funded project will benefit students enrolled in 18 of Bassett’s school-based health centers in rural Delaware, Otsego and Chenango counties. All three counties are federally-designated health professional shortage areas with significant unmet needs for high quality, accessible, comprehensive primary and preventive care.
Dr. Chris Kjolhede, co-director of the Bassett School-Based Health Program, notes that the need for comprehensive primary care includes a need for access to certain pediatric subspecialists not readily available in rural central New York.
“The geographic spread across the rural region Bassett serves makes it virtually impossible to effectively and efficiently meet specific health needs of the pediatric population,” explains Kjolhede. “This grant will help us connect students, via remote access, to subspecialists in the areas of pediatric pulmonology and endocrinology at the University of Rochester Medical Center – Golisano Children’s Hospital. We will also have access to a child and adolescent psychiatrist in the New York City area. Asthma, diabetes and behavioral health are all areas of growing need among our pediatric population, and we believe telehealth can play a critical role in addressing the need.”
In addition to providing access to subspecialists to address individual medical needs, the school-based telehealth project will include diabetes care and education, obesity prevention programming and nutritional counseling, oral health care, behavioral health services, and asthma care and education. This will hopefully allow any individuals who are suffering from medical conditions to understand them better and how to improve their quality of life. For example, someone suffering from diabetes may learn that they are able to use over the calf diabetic socks to improve circulation in their legs and prevent further issues that may occur.
Once equipment for remote access is in place and the program established, it’s expected that nearly 200 tele-psychiatry visits can be completed annually, as well as several hundred asthma self-management activities and at least 280 preventive and specialty oral telehealth visits. The telehealth dental visits will be provided by Leah Carpenter, DMD, who sees students enrolled in Bassett Healthcare Network school-based health centers. These and the other telehealth visits will be in addition to the appointments that already occur in the on-site school-based health centers.
From July of 2015 through June of 2016, with an enrollment of 7,762 students, the SBH program handled 33,522 visits; 32 percent of those were mental health visits, and 59 percent were medical visits; the dental component continues to grow and handled over 3,054 (9 percent) visits.
“Adding telehealth services in many of our school-based health centers is a way for Bassett to continue to build on the school-based health program, further improve accessibility of health care services and improve the health care outcomes in medically underserved areas,” concludes Kjolhede.