Waycross, GA – December 10, 2012 – Participants from all around Georgia and surrounding states flocked to Central Georgia Technical College in Macon on November 9, 2012 to learn more about School Based Health Centers. This event was hosted by Georgia’s Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s Office and Georgia Partnership For Telehealth. It was sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Verizon, and Amerigroup. Two successful SBHC models were presented at this Summit: The Federally Qualified Health Center model and the Telemedicine Model.
The keynote speaker for this event was Dr. Veda Johnson, a pediatrician from Emory. Dr. Johnson outlined the data and statistics that support the implementation of SBHCs. With access healthcare, a student’s overall academic achievement improves.
Representatives from three Georgia FQHCs presented their strategies in opening SBHCs in early 2013. Those representing FQHCs were Shelley Spires and Clifton Bush, Albany Area Primary Health Care; Diana Allen, Primary Healthcare Centers; Karen Williams, West End Medical Centers.
Sherrie Williams, LCSW and GPT SBHC Liaison, discussed how telemedicine works with a SBHC. She discussed that community partnerships are important to the success of a SBHC. Les Evans, GPT Liaison, demonstrated the capabilities of the telemedicine equipment.
Lunch was sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. D.D. Fritch-Levens, Children’s Contact Center Director, explained Children’s impact in Georgia. She also discussed the high level of participation that Children’s has with SBHCs who utilize telemedicine. Dr. Felissa Goldstein, a psychiatrist at Marcus Autism Center, talked about her experience using telemedicine to reach families across the state. She acknowledged that without the use of telemedicine, many of these families would go untreated.
The Georgia Family Connection Partnership has been vital to the SBHC movement in Georgia. Lisa Kingry, Executive Director of Turner County Connection, explained why Family Connection is such a tremendous partner. She described the tight bond many Family Connection groups have with their local communities. She believes that this bond establishes a level of trust needed when embarking on a new initiative like a SBHC. June Cowart, Turner County SBHC Coordinator, also works very closely with the Turner County Connection. She explained her role as the SBHC Coordinator and the many responsibilities she fulfills in this role. SBHCs are typically much for efficient and successful when there is a single point of contact, such as a coordinator.
Dr. Brain Griner, MD, LLC has been involved with SBHCs since 2010. He utilizes telemedicine in his Valdosta office to provide primary care to children all throughout South Georgia. His partner, Dr. Richard Lewis, Ph.D., explained how telemedicine and SBHCs fit into the daily schedule of a very large and robust practice. Dr. Griner’s office is currently serving children and adults in 13 SBHCs.
Superintendents from Ware County and Turner County discussed the reasons for implementing SBHCs into their systems. Both Dr. Joseph Barrow, Ware County, and Ray Jordan, Turner County understands that children must be healthy to learn. Ware County implemented two SBHCS in 2011 and added eight more SBHCs in 2012. Mr. Jordan explained that Turner County began earlier this school term with one SBHC and intends on providing care to all of it’s students later this year. Both superintendents discussed specific cases where SBHCs had changed the outcome of some of their student’s success and achievement.
Since asthma tends to be one of the most chronic diseases for Georgia’s children, Doug Landman and Bonnie Joustra from Ideomed, Inc. presented a software application, Abriiz, that is proving to be a successful tool in SBHCs. They discussed how a SBHC in Berrien County, Georgia used the software with a small group of students and saw a tremendous decrease in the rate that group of students were presenting to the ER. Prior to beginning the program, the local hospital reported 24 asthma related visits in the ER. Nearly one year after beginning Abriiz, that number of ER visits dropped to one.
A panel of school nurses fielded questions regarding their role in SBHCS. The participating nurses were: Lynn River and Jana Walker, Ware County; Kellie Jones and Mona Morris, Turner County; Angie Barber, Pheobe Putney. School nurses are vital to the implementation and success of SBHCs. The nurses explained that they are learning to redefine their roles in the school clinic. Where once they were used to repair broken flip-flops and change dirty clothes, they are now shifting to a more medically focused position. Their role as a medical professional in the SBHC has re-validated them. Tasks not belonging to a medical professional are being shifted to other staff members in the school and nurses are once again focusing on the health and wellbeing of their students.
Shea Ross, Constituent Services Coordinator/Healthcare Policy Analyst, from the office of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle discussed various health related policies that could begin effecting Georgia’s medical community, as well as, SBHCs. Lt. Governor Cagle attended the Summit via pre-recorded video. In his statement he expressed his support of the work being done by SBHCs.
About Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, Inc.
Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, Inc. is a charitable nonprofit corporation which was formed to promote improvements in healthcare and healthcare facilities in rural and underserved communities throughout the state of Georgia by assisting in the establishment of Telemedicine Programs. GPT is known as the leading agency in Georgia focusing on increasing access to healthcare through innovative use of technology including telemedicine, health information exchange and telehealth.
Global Partnership for Telehealth’s mission is to deliver worldwide access to healthcare. Our unparalleled success in the United States in applies telehealth programs and services has assisted agencies in providing cost effective, efficient, and high quality healthcare to hundreds of thousands. GPT is reaching beyond our borders to bring healthcare to the world.