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Avera looks to expand eCare school nurses in Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Avera Health is looking to expand a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District in which nurses treat students through telemedicine.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - Avera Health is looking to expand a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District in which nurses treat students through telemedicine.

Avera and eight Sioux Falls schools have partnered for a year on the pilot program that involves nurses treating students remotely through computers.

More than 500 students used the Avera eCare system for virtual visits with a nurse, The Argus Leader reports.

District Health Services Supervisor Molly Satter said remote nurses aren't meant to replace existing school nursing staff, but rather to work closely with the school nurses.

"Right at the beginning of the program, we anticipated some concern with that, and so we tried to ease those concerns of the nurses and make them a part of the whole process," Satter said.

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The eCare nurses share details of student visits with the school nursing staff. Trained clerical workers in each eCare school operate the laptop and camera according to the instruction of the nurse on the screen.

The Sioux Falls School Board said the program was even more beneficial than anticipated.

Aimee Ullom, school nurse at Jane Addams Elementary School and Axtell Park Middle School, said the program allows schools to have a nurse in the building at all times.

"The eCare nurse is going to ask the same questions that I would ask if I was there in person," Ullom said.

Mandy Bell, quality and innovation officer with Avera, said the company hopes to expand to four more schools in the fall.

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