Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Telehealth can help rural and underserved kids access care » Yale Climate Connections

Technology is making it easier for children with asthma to get the care they need.

At some schools, they can now go to the nurse’s office for a telehealth visit with a provider many miles away.

Katherine Chike-Harris at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing says it’s like any video call but on a computer connected to medical devices, such as an electronic stethoscope.

Chike-Harris: “It’s plugged into the audio port of the computer and so we can actually listen to the heart and lungs.”

Asthma affects about 5 million children in the U.S. And the risks are growing as climate change brings more wildfire smoke, more extreme heat, and a longer pollen season — all of which can aggravate symptoms.

Managing severe asthma may require frequent doctor visits. But that can be a challenge, especially in rural and underserved areas.

Families may have to drive long distances to get to a doctor. And parents may be unable to miss work or lack transportation.

So school-based telemedicine helps eliminate some of the barriers to care.

Chike-Harris: “It’s just really rewarding that you’re treating these kids’ asthma appropriately. … One child told me the other day, they’re like, ‘I can run and play now without coughing and having to stop to breathe.’”

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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