A few weeks ago, a 12-year-old girl told her teachers that she was having trouble breathing. Since the school has no nurse, and no way to access medical help other than via 911, the school held the girl until dismissal and then sent her home.
A few hours later, she died.
The uproar caused by the girl's tragic death has been intense. But the circumstances leading to the death have little to do with the errors of individual educators and everything to do with broader trends in both education and healthcare. The girl was sent home without any medical care or attention because there was no nurse. In fact, NBC reports that the number of nurses in Philadelphia public schools are almost half what they were in 2011. Where there is a nurse, they often cover 2-3 schools, at a minimum.
As Eileen DiFranco, a school nurse recently said, "I think of educators as a caring web that surrounds all of our children. Well, there are gaping holes in that web that simply cannot be filled, or have not been filled." Unfortunately, the story of the girl in Philadelphia is part of a trend in high demand for healthcare and provider shortages that are going to worsen these "holes in the web."
We see a way to fill those holes. You may know that ClickCare was actually founded in underserved school health centers. Even back then, school health was a cornerstone of care in underserved communities, where busy providers and understaffing made medical collaboration crucial. Medical collaboration -- especially with hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine -- means that providers can cover and coordinate care for many more people than they could without it.
Could one nurse, covering 2-3 schools, but connected to other medical collaborators via ClickCare, have saved this little girl? We think so. And we're grateful for all the medical collaboration that doesn't make it to the news every day -- because it works.
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