iPad program helping school nurses treat chronic health issues - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

iPad program helping school nurses treat chronic health issues

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The latest and greatest in school-based health care could come with the swipe of a tablet.

As students return to class this year, school nurses across the country will have access to a newly expanded program called eSchoolCare.

It's designed for the iPad and helps them better treat chronic conditions like severe allergies, asthma or cancer.

For Mount Horeb nurse Pam Schaal it's an indispensable tool. She cares for more than 1,500 students, treating almost anything and everything you'd see in the ER or doctor's office.

"We have diabetics, we have seizure disorders, we have students with feeding tubes, we have students that have cancer that are coming back to school," Schaal explained.

Food allergies and mental health issues are also top concerns, and many times the diagnosis is new.

"They're not comfortable with it yet and we really need to jump in and make sure that we are helping them be safe and healthy," Schaal said.

Nurses like Schaal need to become well versed in those conditions quickly.  Schaal says the eSchoolCare program helps.

"They're really spread thin, they don't have a lot of time to be looking up information," Lori Anderson, eSchoolCare Program Director said.

Anderson, a former school nurse herself, developed the program at the UW School of Nursing. It puts everything a nurse needs to know about five common conditions; asthma, severe allergies, cancer, diabetes and mental health, in one place, their iPad.

"User friendly, predictable, they know how to get around in it," Anderson said of the program. "One of the really popular things is the videos."

The program offers instructional videos demonstrating things like how to use an inhaler or how to test blood sugar. Schaal says the visual images are very helpful for young students.

ESchoolCare began as a pilot program in 14 counties. This school year, it has expanded nationwide. Any nurse or school district who wants to use the material can purchase and download it online.

"What this program has done is package that all up very neatly for us, resources at our fingertips and we can feel comfortable and confident that they are research-based and unbiased," Schaal said.

She believes its a time-saver that in some cases could be a life-saver.

The UW School of Nursing says nationally, there has been a lot of interest in the program, especially in rural districts. Here in Wisconsin, at least 67 districts are using it.

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