Occasional sick days are part of growing up. But for too many children without access to health care, illnesses can turn into sick weeks or even sick months. Students can fall behind in class, and many of them never catch up.
In the 36 Volusia County schools with the highest rates of long-term absenteeism, Florida Hospital will provide health care services to help. By connecting students with doctors, more kids will get treated for both urgent issues and chronic health problems alike. Additionally, all schools will receive coordinated care from a dedicated athletic trainer. And kids will receive career opportunities through Florida Hospital’s middle and high school health programs.
Whether it’s helping a child manage asthma or clearing up an infection, access to health care can allow students to focus on school.
As manager of the Florida Hospital DeLand Emergency Department and a soccer coach at Deltona High School, Registered Nurse Kristine Ford sees firsthand how illness can harm students, both on and off the field.
“Students often miss school to care for siblings or other family members, and it can be difficult to make up for lost time,” she said.
Using eCare to Get Back to Class
One convenient way for busy families to see a doctor is virtually through the eCare app, which can save a trip to the doctor’s office and a missed day of school. Through this partnership, Florida Hospital will connect students and their parents with health care providers who can do immediate assessments via eCare, an app created specifically for live and secure tele-health consultations. Using this technology, students can get the health care services they need for short-term issues like minor injuries, cough, colds, flu, allergies, pink eye, and infections, as well as some long-term health issues like asthma.
Ford herself even used the app to help diagnose her daughter’s sore throat. And for students whose families have trouble paying for care, Florida Hospital will work with them to help them get the care they need.
Staying Safe on the Field
Hundreds of thousands of brain injuries happen to young athletes in America every year. The signs of concussion can be subtle, so it’s important to have a trained medical professional on the field.
“Every school will have access to an athletic trainer,” Ford said.
As part of the partnership with Volusia County Schools, Florida Hospital will dedicate a certified athletic trainer to act as a liaison with the schools, and work with the district to improve concussion protocols. The athletic trainer will spend much of his or her time with athletes off the field to help with conditioning and nutrition, which can prevent injuries.
“Without proper nutrition and hydration, young players are more at risk for injuries,” Ford said.
Added Career Opportunities
In the future, the demand for health care occupations is expected to climb due to the aging baby boomers, longer life expectancies and higher rates of chronic conditions. By 2026, about one-third of all new jobs are projected to be in health care or social assistance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By supporting the high school health care academies in Volusia County Schools, Florida Hospital will help prepare high schoolers for future health care careers.
Florida Hospital has long supported these health care academies by providing medical supplies and educational opportunities. In fact, Ford’s department recently donated medical equipment to students so they can learn how to use it and practice before competitions organized by Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) - Future Health Professionals.
“These kids go through a rigorous program,” she said. “They spend weeks in a hospital, including the intensive care unit or the medical-surgical floor.”
As part of the new partnership, Florida Hospital will work directly with the school district’s six health care academies, as well as its nine high school and middle school health programs. Some of the program benefits include an internship program, professional interactions with health care professionals, recruitment opportunities and more.
Ford says this partnership has the potential to positively impact thousands of local families in Volusia County. By taking advantage of the program while still in school, students will be better prepared to work in the health care system when they’ve finished training. Also, giving kids prompt access to care will help them succeed in class and build a strong academic footing because kids can’t learn when they’re sick. And on the field, parents can enjoy the game a bit more knowing their kids are protected from repeated concussions and other injuries.