The legislation will allow physicians, dentists and mental health professionals to use telehealth to connect with and provide care to students in public, private and charter elementary and secondary schools, school-age child care programs and day care centers.
"This is another important step in expanding health care access for New York State residents. It will be extremely beneficial for areas of the state, including the North Country, that struggle with healthcare provider shortages," Assemblywoman Jenne said.
"It also ties in nicely with the community schools model that seeks to expand services to meet all of our students' needs. We know it’s hard to focus on learning if a student is sick or suffering from dental or mental health issues. The expansion of telehealth offers the potential to address the health issues more quickly," she noted.
Assemblywoman Jenne said pilot programs that have used telehealth services at schools around the state have had encouraging results.
She pointed, for example, to the Rochester City School District's partnership with the University of Rochester Medical Center's Health-e-Access telemedicine program.
That program allows a student to be seen by a physician without having to leave the school grounds.
A video connection, typically from a school nurse's office, allows a medical professional to communicate with the student and their guardian, review digital images through instruments such as ear and throat scopes, make a diagnosis and write any necessary prescriptions.
"This offers an opportunity to overcome distance barriers that create so many challenges for North Country families seeking health care, improves access to health care and reduces the amount of time students spend out of school," Assemblywoman Jenne said.
The telehealth model of providing medical care to students from a remote location has proven successful in addressing issues such as ear infections, sore throats and respiratory illnesses.
A University of Rochester study found that 96 percent of acute care illness visits could be successfully treated without the need for in-patient care.
Assemblywoman Jenne sponsored the bill (A4703) in the state Assembly, and it was carried by Senator Kemp Hannon in the state Senate.
It is the second telehealth bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Jenne that has been signed into law by Gov. Cuomo this summer.
The first bill (A.1464) amended the public health law by expanding the definition of originating site to allow primary care providers to use telehealth to connect with and provide care to seniors.
The legislation provides the opportunity for adult care facilities to use telehealth services when they are amenable to a patient's medical needs.
"It’s all about using the technology now available to expand access to health care for residents of the North Country and around the state. Telehealth provides an important opportunity to expand access to health care for North Country families, and I’ll keep working on steps to grow this health care option in the state," Assemblywoman Jenne said.