Always the eager learner, Crestwood 6th grader Heidi Jessel put up with ear pain for weeks because she didn’t want to miss school. As an educator, her mom understood the importance of her being in school, but also knew Heidi needed another follow-up for her months-long ear issue. When she learned Akron Children’s School-Based Health Center was offering medical appointments at her daughter’s school, it was music to everyone’s ears.
“We love our pediatrician’s office and staff, but Heidi does NOT like to miss school,” said Gretchen Jessel, Heidi’s mom. “I support her in not wanting to miss class time because I see the benefits of being in school first-hand. By giving parents and kids an alternative for appointments that offers less time away from the classroom, this center is not only helping our kids physically, but also mentally, socially and emotionally.”
Heidi’s ear infections started in May 2020. She saw her Akron Children’s pediatrician multiple times for care but, as soon as her ear would clear up, the infection would resurface.
In November, Akron Children’s School-Based Health Center began seeing patients at Heidi’s school. The convenient alternative to an in-office visit allowed Heidi to get care with a nurse practitioner in person or over virtual care technology (telehealth) at school. Even for something as intricate as seeing in her ears, nose and throat, the nurse practitioner was able to do a full exam virtually with the help of a hand-held device that projects a real-time video to the nurse practitioner’s computer.
“I had never used telehealth before and found it very easy to set up her appointment,” said Gretchen. “Due to the ongoing issue at her follow-up appointment at school, the telehealth provider referred us to an ENT and, in the end, the Akron Children’s team was able to help her.”
School-based health center appointments – whether in-person or via telehealth – are not a discounted or lesser-quality health care visit.
“The care Heidi received was just as thorough as an in-office visit. I feel Akron Children’s sets high standards for care and communication with everyone involved,” said Gretchen. “I received a phone call and voice messages related to the care Heidi received at school. Heidi also felt comfortable receiving care at school and talking with the provider even though I was not present.”
In fact, while Heidi was at her school telehealth appointment, she advocated for herself and asked for a flu shot so she didn’t have to miss school to go to her pediatrician’s office. While most appointments can be done virtually, some, like administering shots, does require a nurse practitioner to schedule an in-person appointment at the school, which her mom did.
“I have a 22-year relationship with Akron Children’s and have established trust in the care they have provided all 3 of my children,” said Gretchen. “I am amazed by the various services the school telehealth program offers and won’t hesitate to use them. We’re very fortunate that our superintendent, Dave Toth, and the Crestwood School Board helped bring this program to our school. I’m sure it will increase the health and wellness of our students and relieve families of childcare issues, time constraints and lost time at work.”
To find out if Akron Children’s Hospital is offering a school-based health center at your child’s school or to learn more about scheduling an appointment, call 330-543-7242. Same-day appointments may be available.