Telemedicine In Howard County featured in the Washington Post

School nurse Veronica DeSimone uses telemedicine equipment to connect doctors with students who are ill. (Courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts) — Picture from


An article featured last month in the Washington Post, highlights the impact telemedicine has had on schools in Howard County. Telemedicine programs in the following Howard County elementary schools are considered a nontraditional school-based health center: Phelps Luck, Bryant Wood, Running Brook, Stevens Forest, Talbott Springs, and Ducketts Lane Elementary Schools. The program has allowed for quicker diagnosis, given providers the opportunity to prescribe medicine on the spot, and have allowed children return to class almost immediately, given their conditions are not contiguous or require additional follow up.

Last year, the six Howard County schools conducted 150 telemedicine exams. Midway through this year, the total was 87. In 98 percent of the cases, (not including those involving who contagious illnesses or conditions that couldn’t be treated through telemedicine), the students immediately returned to class. — The Washington Post

MASBHC has been following the progress of the telemedicine program in Howard County and are excited to see it getting the coverage it deserves.

For the article in its entirety please click here.

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New School Year and a Healthier Northwood High

As the new school year is upon us, schools across the state are making changes to become healthier environments for their students. At Northwood High School, as part of their Hallways to Health initiative, they have removed all the vending machines from the campus that were making high caloric, unhealthy snacks readily available to students. This is a huge success that reiterates to students the importance of healthy eating. Northwood’s student body is large and so diverse that being able to reach them at this population level is a huge success.

The Principal, Ms.Charley-Greene, has been a leader in health and wellness in Northwood High School. For the upcoming school year she has removed the candy, snack and soda vending machines from the halls. Students will be eating healthier lunches and after school snacks. — Kay Sophar, Northwood High SBHC Nurse Practitioner

In addition to the removal of the vending machines, Northwood’s SBHC is also working towards expanding a pilot breakfast program that they have had much success initiating during the 2015-16 school year. Northwood addressed absenteeism with a pilot in-class breakfast program through a partnership with Nourish Now. As a result of the pilot breakfast program during the 2015-16 school year, students had a recognizable increase in energy, they began to arrive earlier to class, and there was an improvement in their grades. Northwood’s SBHC is working on expanding the breakfast program to include additional classrooms and reach more students.

Northwood SBHC Staff for the 2015-16 School Year

Northwood SBHC Staff

Way to go Northwood! Good luck for the 2016-17 school year!

If your SBHC has a success story they would like to share, please email Sapna Hencinski at

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Telemedicine in Howard County: Where are we today?

The Howard County Health Department School Based Wellness Centers Telemedicine Program is in its second year of providing acute health care services to the children attending five, Title I elementary schools in Columbia. The main goal of the program is to decrease missed school time for children with minor health complaints. Health problems eligible for a telemedicine visit include common childhood symptoms involving the lungs up to the eyes, typical headaches for children with an established headache diagnosis, and exposed skin. Plans for community providers to see their patients for ADHD and medication management are being developed.

Telemedicine programs are multiplying exponentially across the country and the world. Some leaders in school-based health believe that “telemedicine is the next frontier for school health.

A new provider model has been introduced this school year in which children are able to receive care from their primary care providers. Nine community pediatric practices have joined the Health Department’s telemedicine provider network and see their patients via telemedicine. These practices directly bill the health insurers and families. Howard County General Hospital pediatric emergency room pediatricians provide care for children whose providers are not in the network or are unavailable. Another program change for this school year is the addition of a sixth school in mid-November, Ducketts Lane Elementary. To date, there are 966 children (30.8% of the combined schools’ populations) enrolled in the telemedicine program and there have been 66 visits in this school year. The current return to class rate is 92.7% for students whose diagnoses did not require school exclusion as per Howard County Public School System policy. The telemedicine program has been very popular with parents who report the program being “very helpful to busy families” and saving them from missing work and their children being absent from school.  Satisfaction surveys from parents report high rates of satisfaction and willingness to re-use the program.

The School Based Health Alliance reports 7.3% of all school-based health centers completing the 2013-2014 national survey use telemedicine and the number is growing. The list of health services that can be provided through this technology are rapidly expanding and include mental and oral health. Telemedicine visits are reimbursed by Medical Assistance in Maryland and many private health insurers.

Thank you to Sharon Hobson,  School Based Wellness Center Administrator and Telemedicine Program Coordinator, Howard County Health Department for contributing to this post 
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