As part of AdventHealth's historic $2 million, five-year partnership with Volusia County Schools, the hospital system has begun the first phase of providing healthcare services to students at select schools with the highest rates of chronic absenteeism.
"During the 2017-2018 school year, nearly 17% of Volusia County students were chronically absent — meaning they had 10 or more unexcused absences within the school year," said Volusia County Schools Superintendent Tom Russell. "Across our system, this equates to about 11,000 students annually."
On April 22, the program has begun at Westside Elementary School in Daytona Beach and will rollout to an additional 35 schools in the coming months.
"We are launching this program at Westside Elementary because more than a quarter of their students were chronically absent during the previous school year," Russell said. "After nearly a year of planning and working through the complex operations and logistics, we are thrilled to start this program, providing students with urgent care services in our school clinics, in hopes we can help our students stay in the classrooms to learn."
"Chronic absenteeism is a critical issue facing our area schools. Regularly missing time in the classroom can create a significant barrier to learning, earning good grades and even graduating," said David Ottati, CEO of the AdventHealth Central Florida Division - North Region, which includes the AdventHealth facilities in the Volusia County. "With the AdventHealth eCare app, students will have access to urgent care providers via live, secure tele-health consultations. Helping our children get healthy and stay healthy ensures they can come to school each day ready to learn, grow and thrive."
The local hospital system will provide a tablet with the AdventHealth eCare app and printer to clinics at the 36 schools with the highest rates of chronic absenteeism.
Using AdventHealth eCare, students and their parents will experience a face-to-face video visit with a board-certified physician or nurse practitioner for a range of urgent care issues, such as pink eye, coughs/colds/flu, minor injuries, allergies, urinary tract infections, and more.
During this virtual visit, students can receive a diagnosis for minor ailments, learn about treatment options, receive follow-up instructions and obtain a prescription if needed — all without leaving the school clinic or at home at the family's convenience.
Launched during the summer of 2016, the AdventHealth eCare app allows Florida residents to virtually consult with a healthcare provider for urgent, non-acute medical needs 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. Normally, an AdventHealth eCare visit is $49 without insurance. However, as part of AdventHealth's partnership with Volusia County Schools, the hospital system created a fund that the school district will manage to cover the cost of the visit for students.
"One of the core focuses of this partnership is to reduce the number of students who are chronically absent," said Russell. "We need our students to be healthy enough to come to school, and they need to be healthy in order to perform their best in the classroom."
Chronic absenteeism is one of the three key focuses of the AdventHealth partnership with Volusia County Schools. The other two aspects of the partnership center on student athlete health and career development opportunities within the healthcare industry.