Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District are working together to offer virtual healthcare visits for children at school.
The Virtual Care at School Program aims to create a personalized and convenient way for children to receive care at school from CHLA specialists in lieu of being absent for an appointment. At launch on the first day of the 2023-2024 school year, the program will be available to existing CHLA patients 12 years of age or older who attend one of 20 participating Los Angeles Unified schools and are followed by one of the following specialties at CHLA: Adolescent Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Infectious Diseases, Medical Genetics and Pulmonology.
Los Angeles Unified identified the 20 schools to pilot the program based on an in-depth analysis of absenteeism rates and the number of students with chronic conditions at each school.
On the day of the virtual healthcare visit, students will be summoned from class and provided a safe, quiet and private space and the equipment needed to access their appointment through a link sent to their Los Angeles Unified email address. Designated school personnel will help students connect to the visit, then leave the room to ensure privacy. Caregivers will also receive a link to join the appointment from wherever they may be. A caregiver is required to participate in the child’s virtual visit unless the child is over the age of 18.
“Family-centered care is at the core of everything we do at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and we know that children with chronic illnesses constantly missing school and caregivers having to leave work early to travel across town for a doctor’s appointment are pain points for many of our patient families,” says Omkar Kulkarni, M.P.H., chief transformation and digital officer at CHLA, in a statement. “We’ve taken these concerns to heart and worked closely with Los Angeles Unified to create the Virtual Care at School Program so that our patients can now continue receiving world-class care from California’s premier pediatric hospital without having to leave their school campus.”
At CHLA, telehealth visits have skyrocketed. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 470 virtual appointments were conducted annually. That number now exceeds 42,000. Using telehealth to bring the doctor’s office to the school setting offers a chance to deliver the care students need without sacrificing academic progress or their family’s well-being.
“Los Angeles Unified takes an active approach in providing resources that support the whole child by fostering academic excellence, nurturing and enriching green spaces, physical well-being and social emotional health,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said, in a statement. “The partnership with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the largest provider of pediatric medical care in Los Angeles County, will not only provide world-class care from CHLA specialists. It also removes numerous impediments for families receiving medical attention by providing virtual care at schools, reducing the time families miss work and minimizing time away from the classroom. I can think of no better partner than CHLA to launch the Virtual Care at School Program.”