Keith Osborne from the Rural Health Services Consortium demonstrates a telemedicine system for the Hawkins County Board of Education on Jan. 9. Jeff Bobo photo.
ROGERSVILLE — If a Mooresburg student is sick and the school system’s lone traveling nurse practitioner is in Mount Carmel, it’s simply not practical to travel the length of the county for that one case.
Technology now being introduced into Hawkins County Schools’ health services will make that distance a non-factor.
Telemedicine is being introduced to Hawkins County Schools this year, making it possible for students to receive a health exam and diagnosis from a nurse practitioner via live computer feed.
Since 2010, the Rural Health Services Consortium (RHSC) has provided health care in Hawkins County Schools via clinics at each of the two main high schools and has used one mobile clinic that rotates to the other 17 schools, hitting two each day.
On Jan. 9, however, Keith Osborne, who heads the RHSC mobile unit, gave the Board of Education a demonstration of what he expects will be the future of school health care in Hawkins County.
RHSC currently has two sets of equipment that will be used as part of its blossoming telemedicine program.
One set will travel with a nurse as needed across the county school system, and one set will stay in the RHSC mobile unit.
It’s the same type of equipment found in any doctor’s office except that they’re wired into a closed circuit computer system that transmits video images live from the patient to the nurse practitioners or doctor.
A set of equipment costs about $8,000.
For an expanded version of this article, please see Thursday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.