North Carolina is home to many rural communities where children lack access to basic medical care, with some counties having more than 2,000 children per pediatrician. Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital’s School-Based Virtual Care program was established in 2019 to address these disparities. An initial grant from Kohl’s Cares launched the popular program in two Lincoln County schools during the 2019-2020 school year, enabling Atrium Health pediatricians to conduct 168 at G.E. Massey and Battleground Elementary Schools in the first year of the program.

Photos taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic and may not reflect current health and safety policies.

With a renewed $150,000 commitment from Kohl’s, the program was recently able to expand to five additional Lincoln County schools during the 2020-2021 school year: Pumpkin Center Primary, Pumpkin Center Intermediate, Love Memorial Elementary, West Lincoln Middle and West Lincoln High. Kohl’s funding will allow Atrium Health to further develop and utilize a model that allows children to be seen by a provider for minor illnesses without leaving school, decreases non-emergent utilization of the emergency room, and helps to establish a primary care medical home for students who do not have one.

With the help of philanthropic support, Atrium Health’s school-based virtual clinics currently operate in over 30 schools across Lincoln and Cleveland Counties, as well as within Kannapolis City Schools.

“The School-Based Virtual Care services offered to the students has promoted in classroom instruction through decreasing the time spent out of the classroom due to illness or injury,” shared Lauren Davis, MSN, RN, School Nurse. “In past years, a student with a simple complaint such as an earache would miss at least one day of school and cause parents to be absent from their work obligations. Now we are able to offer the parent the convenience of having the child seen and treated in the school with typically less than 30 minutes out of the classroom. This service has been life-changing for so many involved, especially the students who often find it difficult to receive the care they need!”

Patty Grinton, MD FAAP, Assistant Specialty Medical Director, Pediatrics, Children’s School Telemedicine, Director, conducts virtual visits from Levine Children’s Shelby Children’s Clinic.