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Pawhuska Family Medical begins new outreach to schools

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A family medical clinic affiliated with Pawhuska Hospital is offering telehealth services for children in schools in Pawhuska, Hominy, McCord and Shidler.

Dr. Cameron Rumsey, a family medicine specialist at Pawhuska Family Medical Clinic, who is also chief of staff at Pawhuska Hospital, said Cohesive Healthcare Management & Consulting, which manages the hospital, played an important role in helping to make available the technology used in delivering telehealth services to children in the participating schools.

"Cohesive has really partnered with us on this," Rumsey said.

Two additional nurses were hired to make it possible to have personnel in place to facilitate the connection between patients and Pawhuska Family Medical Clinic, Rumsey said. Licensed professional nurses visit the schools and, through the use of remote-sensing technology, help a doctor at the clinic in Pawhuska to conduct examinations of the ear, lungs, throat, heart and abdomen. The physician can also take the patient's temperature.

The technological system that Pawhuska Family Medical Clinic is using is called TytoCare.

Rumsey said the clinic's objective is to provide more healthcare access for children than they might otherwise receive, and to do so in a manner that makes it easier on their parents. With this new arrangement, parents are less likely to need to take time off of work to transport their children to medical appointments.

The remote examinations basically work just like a visit to the clinic building in Pawhuska, but without the travel and the schedule dislocations, Rumsey said. Insurances are billed for services rendered, just as they would be if a parent transported his or her child to the clinic building, Rumsey said.

"Getting the equipment and doing the exams is the easy part," Rumsey said, explaining that hiring nurses who live conveniently close to the schools where they provide services was more of a challenge -- especially in the McCord area, in rural western Osage County.

Overall, the process of working out the efficiencies of the arrangement has been the greater challenge, Rumsey said.

Participating school districts had their boards of education look over the program, and had their attorneys review the necessary contractual material, Rumsey said. One of the remarkable upside features of the implementation of the program is that schools which previously had no school nurse now have one, he said.

"None of these schools had school nurses before this program," Rumsey said. The program has been under way for a little more than a month, he said. Rumsey also said he anticipates the program will grow in popularity as parents become more aware of it.

"I think once they see how it works, they will become more comfortable with it," Rumsey said.