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Anchorage schools now offer telemedicine appointments in the school nurse’s office

Ravenwood Elementary student Wyatt Arnold and school nurse Jennifer Cottle have a telemedicine...
Ravenwood Elementary student Wyatt Arnold and school nurse Jennifer Cottle have a telemedicine appointment with an online doctor.(ktuu)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District is offering a new service: the chance for any student to see an online doctor in their school nurse’s office.

The district has formed a partnership with PM Pediatrics Anywhere. What began as a pilot program last year has expanded to every school in the district.

Ravenwood Elementary School Nurse Jennifer Cottle has used the service several times, which she described as a convenience for parents.

“My first visit that I did this year, we were able to help a child with an outer ear infection,” Cottle said. “And she had medicine that evening before 6 o’clock at night and mom didn’t have to take off work and she was able to do it when it was convenient for her to grab the medication.”

A telemedicine appointment can be set up if a school nurse feels it’s necessary. After that, the nurse must contact the parents for consent, who then need to go to the website or download an app to start an account.

Within minutes, an online doctor can confer with the student and school nurse on video. The doctor will also contact the parents with the results of the exam. If a prescription is needed, it can be sent electronically to a local pharmacy.

Cottle said an in-school exam can come in handy when a diagnosis is tricky, or if there’s a question about whether it’s safe for a child to stay in school. The online doctor can also recommend if a student would be better served with an in-person exam.

The cost of the exam is billed to the parent’s insurance, according to PM Pediatrics Dr. Sheryl Cohen.

“If they have insurance, then we bill their commercial insurance,” Cohen said. “If they don’t, then we are seeing those children for free in the Anchorage School District.”

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