As Avera eCARE® School Health continues to expand its footprint across South and North Dakota – with 24 school partners throughout the vastly rural region – schools of all sizes are discovering the value of having immediate, virtual access to registered nurses throughout the school day.

The top five benefits of partnering with Avera eCARE School Health include:

1. Provides Students with Immediate Access to Expert Nursing Care

“In North Dakota, nursing care is not widely available in small schools,” says Marty Bratrud, Superintendent of Westhope School District in North Dakota. “The opportunity to have this resource was something we couldn’t pass up.”

Westhope, which is located just six miles from the Canadian border, is 30 miles from the nearest hospital. “When you’re that far away from medical services, you run into time factors, especially in an emergency situation. Now that we have Avera eCARE, an expert is just a screen away. It gives us a lot more confidence that we’re doing the right thing for our students when it comes to their medical needs.”

Corrine Heilman, Administrative Assistant at Velva Public Schools in North Dakota, adds that having access to Avera eCARE takes pressure off of the school to make medical decisions. “Anytime a student has an illness or injury, we bring up Avera eCARE and they determine whether the student needs further care, needs go home or will be fine to stay at school. That removes a lot of pressure from our staff.”

2. Decreases the School’s Risk of Liability

Sheila Freed, Avera eCARE School Health Director, finds that many schools don’t realize the liability associated with school health. “Many states require school staff to have medication training before delivering medications to students and the oversight of a registered nurse. If a school doesn’t follow guidelines, they may not realize the potential liability they face. Our team helps schools decrease that risk of liability while providing better care to kids and giving staff peace of mind.”

“With Avera eCARE, not only are we able to take full measures to ensure the safety and medical care of our students but any liability issues are covered too,” says Bratrud. “The eCARE team has been unbelievable in working with us and making sure we’re doing our due diligence.”

3. Improves Student Attendance

Heilman attributes the improvement in student attendance with the eCARE School Nurse team’s ability to discern when a student is healthy enough to stay in school.

In fact, from August 2018 through December 2018, 91 percent of students who had an eCARE School Health nurse video visit were able to stay in school instead of going home. Around 5 percent went home and 3 percent were referred for medical care.

Freed also describes how they see every visit as an opportunity to teach students when to go home, when to stay in school and how to take good care of themselves so that they can stay in school.

“If a student doesn’t feel well, but doesn’t have a fever or need to go home, we talk them through some ideas of what they can do to feel better such as lying down, drinking water or having a healthy snack. We hope to help teach them how to take good care of themselves with healthy habits.”

4. Enhances Communication with Parents

Another benefit that’s appreciated by school staff and parents alike is the fact that eCARE School Health’s registered nurses make direct calls to parents.

“Having a registered nurse handling the primary communication with parents about their child’s health care needs is critical to good communication,” says Bratrud. “When parents get a phone call from a nurse, they tend to take it more seriously and pay more attention. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions and get answers from a medical professional.”

5. Easy to Use Technology

When it comes to designing the technology and equipment, Avera eCARE has been intentional in creating a system that employs user-friendly, accurate and comprehensive tools.

“It’s easy to listen to the lungs, look inside the ears and throat, and get a close-up view of skin issues, such as rashes,” describes Freed.

“The system is very easy to use,” adds Amy Davis, a special education professional at Westhope who utilizes the service frequently. “And it only takes a few minutes to connect with a nurse.”

Going Above and Beyond to Create Bonds

Beyond these benefits, Freed and her team enjoy developing relationships with students and school staff.

“There’s an aspect of virtual care that makes you feel like you’re there in person and we work hard to develop bonds and relationships with those we care for. We have a lot of fun engaging with the children by doing virtual fist bumps and high fives. We’ve even had a student invite us to his birthday party because we’re a part of his life,” she recalls.

“We have a great relationship with Sheila and her staff,” says Heilman. “Even though we’re hundreds of miles away from them, when I call it’s very personal, just as if they are our own school nurse right here in our building.”

“The nurses are wonderful and they’ve built a really cool rapport with our kids. They seem to think it’s a pretty neat experience,” adds Bratrud. “They’ve exceeded our expectations.”

To learn more about how eCARE School Health can partner with your school, contact Sheila Freed at 605-322-5309.