Six Somerset Co. Schools to Receive Telemedicine Equipment

 CRISFIELD, Md.- Some doctors and school nurses in Somerset County will soon have an extra set of eyes to treat patients. The United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA-RD) recently awarded $390,115 to the Crisfield Clinic to establish telemedicine health centers in six schools in Somerset County.

Lack of transportation and money are two of the biggest challenges when it comes to quality healthcare in rural communities, according to Kerry Palakanis, a nurse practitioner and owner of Crisfield Clinic. She is in charge of the project and said the telemedicine will benefit parents and children.

"You'll actually see me, just like you're seeing me right now and we'll be able to hold a dialogue; we'll be able to assess individuals, and we can look in their ears, their nose, their throat," said Palakanis, who explained how some of the devices on the side of each integrated station work. She said some tools operate through bluetooth. Images and sounds are transferred to the monitor for the doctor on the other end to see.  A health worker will facilitate the appointment.

Crisfield Academy and High School, Greenwood Elementary, Princess Anne Elementary, Woodson Elementary, Somerset County Intermediate and Ewell Elementary will have telemedicine access. An integrated station will be installed in each school except Ewell. The children at Ewell will have access through a new telemedicine clinic that will serve people on Smith Island. Palakanis said that clinic will be the first to open and receive equipment. The Crisfield Housing Authority will also benefit form the service. Palakanis said she hopes to get a clinic opened for the residents in the spring.

Quarznay Carter of Princess Anne thinks it is a great idea.

 "I think it would be an awesome help," she said. "I mean it's a lot of stuff that's going on and nurses can't [always] get their hands right there to it," Carter said.

Airealle Sells prefers a more traditional approach for treatment in schools.

"It may help in school," she said. " But, I would prefer, if a child is sick to go to the nurses office and talk to the nurse [in person]."


 The telemedicine centers will be installed in schools next fall.  

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