Sarah TeGrotenhuis with an iPad

Sioux Center School District nurse Sarah TeGrotenhuis holds an iPad at her office in Sioux Center High School. In partnership with Sioux Center Health and Promise Community Health Center, the high school will begin a telemedicine program in September.

SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center High School students will be able to stay in school for certain medical checkups thanks to a new telemedicine opportunity to be introduced in September.

As school district nurse Sarah TeGrotenhuis told members of the Sioux Center School District Board of Education during its April 19 meeting, this is being done through a partnership with Sioux Center Health and Promise Community Health Center. This will begin with the high school before being introduced to the other school buildings.

It’s at no cost to the school district.

By using an iPad, a school nurse can conduct virtual visits with a doctor at those entities that would otherwise have required them to leave school, usually with a parent having to take time off from work.

“So, for instance, if a child had an infected toe, we would take an iPad and use that to send it to Sioux Center Health’s medical clinic and look at it,” TeGrotenhuis said. “A parent is on the second iPad, and they’re giving consent and answering questions so this kid could be seen in a half-hour interval as opposed to a parent taking a half day off work.”

Specialized equipment allows the school nurse to examine such things as the ear canal and let the doctor on the other end see.

“They can check the heart rate, check lungs, and they hear it over there,” TeGrotenhuis said.

She expects a typical exam to take about 30 minutes.

There is a limit to what they can do as school nurses on behalf of a doctor. As the school nurses office doesn’t have the capabilities to give or store different medical tests, they cannot perform COVID-19 tests or strep throat tests, for example, so this would not replace those kinds of appointments.

A doctor could prescribe medicine after a telemedicine exam, however.

“They would just send it in electronically and the parent would pick it up after they get done with work,” TeGrotenhuis said.

School board member and Dr. LoriAnne Andersen said that a number of video conference platforms such as FaceTime and Google Duo can be used for these virtual visits. The benefit to these virtual visits is the convenience it affords the student and parents.

This has also started at Sioux Center Christian School. TeGrotenhuis said some of the common ailments the Sioux Center Christian School nurses office used the virtual visits for so far include ingrown toe nail, rash, ear problems and cold symptoms.