Telehealth service popular among students, families

Use of a telehealth service at Port Aransas ISD has been going well since the school district started it in January, according to Cori Stegenga, the district nurse.

“It’s been really good,” said Stegenga, who brought the telehealth idea to the school district and implemented it. “The families that have used it think it’s amazing.”

The service is called SchoolMed, provided by Goodside Health.

If a student gets sick at school, the student can go to Stegenga’s office, where she first will assess them and determine whether SchoolMed would be a good option.

If she decides it would, the student is checked out through SchoolMed by a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant or medical doctor remotely. The student and healthcare worker can see each other by way of an iPad.

Having the service available means parents won’t always have to leave their workplace, pick up their child and try to get the child in to see a doctor in person. Parents can join in with the appointment, remotely, with their cell phones, or in-person, at the school.

When the SchoolMed provider places an order for it, Stegenga can test students for COVID-19, strep A and influenza A and B. She couldn’t do that before SchoolMed came along, except for COVID testing that was done during the pandemic.

SchoolMed also allows for prescriptions to be ordered during the remote session. Students’ parents can pick the prescriptions up at pharmacies later.

The service accepts all insurance and Medicaid and will work with families that don’t have insurance, Stegenga said. The highest out-of-pocket fee for any one appointment is $50, and the fee can be lowered, according to a family’s income, she said.

Quite a few families with students in PAISD don’t have health insurance or reliable transportation, Stegenga said.

If the SchoolMed provider places an order, Stegenga can provide a student with a onetime dosage of medicine for problems such as for nausea or pain. Before the telehealth service came along, the only way she could provide medication to a student was if a parent provided the medication and certain paperwork was filled out to allow the nurse to dispense it.

The service is available not only for students but also for school staff. About 20 students and staff members have used it since the spring semester started, Stegenga said.

The service is available only during school hours. It’s not available for students’ younger or older siblings not enrolled at PAISD.

The school district doesn’t pay anything for use of SchoolMed.

Students must be signed up to be able to use the service. Parents can sign up their children here:

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