Using Telehealth to Expand Student Access to Care
By: Paula Jyl Castante
Renee Kotsopoulo fought for telehealth in the Garland Independent School District in Texas long before the epidemic became it a part of our cultural lexicon.
“People always have believed that because we give people Medicaid, and we have churches out there that help with medical care, that equals access,” says Kotsopoulo, director of health services for the district.
“But I can tell you firsthand, that doesn’t equal access. It doesn’t matter what we do, if they have to get to a site, they can’t get to the site. They don’t have transportation.” The district began giving telehealth services to pupils several years ago in order to overcome this hurdle. The district joined with Hazel Health in February 2020 to provide telehealth services to three of its schools. When the pandemic issue broke out shortly after, Kotsopoulo requested that services be expanded to all 55,000+ children in the district.
According to Kotsopoulo, efficiently using technology in the classroom is just as crucial as using it for health care. She claims that “if the kids aren’t in school, they aren’t going to learn.” “The goal is to keep kids in school learning utilizing all of this technology.” We can’t wait for these parents to take action and get their children checked out. They simply are unable to do so. Many individuals have lost their jobs, they don’t have insurance, and if they do find work, they must keep it, so they can’t leave during the day.”