JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Health care access will be a click away for students thanks to a $17.6 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and care through the School of Nursing and Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson.

According to UMMC officials, the grant will help create a telehealth delivery system within kindergarten through 12th grade schools. Care will range from urgent care to behavioral health care during school hours.

The funding is provided through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III.

To prepare for the new school year, UMMC nurse educators Shanda Walenta and Jolie D’Antonio taught Pearl School District nurses on the technology July 28. 

“Jolie and I are thrilled to come on board as nurse educators for this program,” Walenta said. “For the previous eight years, I was a school nurse myself, so I fully understand how this program is going to benefit our state. Training the nurses in our state to use the equipment is going well. Every nurse we have trained so far has been excited and cannot wait to add telehealth to their practice in the school clinic setting.” 

The video visits with UMMC health care providers are free of charge for families in enrolled school districts. Parents must consent for the school telehealth visits, and they can join in the visits in person or from their computer, tablet or smartphone. 

After a telehealth visit, a summary of the visit will be emailed to parents. With parental consent, a summary will also be emailed to the student’s primary care provider. 

The grant includes Pearl, McComb, Quitman and Yazoo County school districts. Nurses in the Phase I schools have been trained and will be available starting August 2. 

The second phase of the grant will bring UMMC telehealth services to 30 more school districts in the state including Madison County and Rankin County school districts and Jackson Public Schools by November 1.