Telehealth machines connect Duplin Co. students to medical professionals


New technology is connecting students and teachers in one rural county to medical professionals. It’s called the Telehealth System, and it means Duplin County students won’t have to miss school to visit the doctor.

With the press of a button, the machines are connecting students instantly to a medical professional.

The Telehealth machines rolled out this school year and are part of a partnership between the school system, ECU and Goshen Medical.

“Being in Duplin County, a lot of our parents work in factories, and they’re unable to get off work to come and pick up their child,” said Vonda Grady, a Warsaw Elementary School nurse. “So that child could be sick for the entire day.”

The Telehealth system hopes to solve that. School nurses make an appointment and connects virtually with a doctor who can then examine and prescribe medications.

“We can test for flu, we can test for strep, pink eye, conjunctivitis, your common cold, and ear infections,” Grady said.

School officials also hope the Telehealth machines will improve student performance.

“It’s going to give us access to better and faster medical treatment with our students,” said Sue Ellen Cottle, lead school nurse for DCS. “We’ll keep them in school. If they’re not in school they don’t learn.”

Students can also be seen virtually by nutritionists and behaviorists.

“There are not a lot of resources in Duplin County for children who need to see a nutritionist,” said Jessica Sisneros, a registered dietitian at ECU. “They can travel to Wilmington or Pitt County but that’s really far.”

Students receive a work sheet to take home, so parents are still included in the process. There are currently three Telehealth machines; one each at Warsaw, Beulaville and Wallace elementary schools.


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