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Rochester's Riverside Elementary is first in the area to host virtual medical exams for students

"This is huge. It's a great accomplishment. And we can look now to the future of providing health care in a different way," said Michael Luker, Mayo Clinic operations manager.

02 TytoCare Device at Riverside Central Elementary School
Connie Scheid, a licensed school nurse who works at Riverside Central Elementary School, and Addie Scheid, 9, Connie's daughter, use a TytoCare device, which can be used by staff at Riverside to connect a patient and health care provider virtually, for a practice medical exam on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, at the school in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Nine-year-old Addie Scheid was getting a medical check up in a conference room at Riverside Central Elementary last week.

But in reality, it wasn't an actual check up. It was a dry run to test the school's new TytoCare device, which will allow medical staff to examine students remotely. The acquisition of the technology, which was a partnership between the school and the Mayo Clinic, is groundbreaking for the area.

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Aside from the technical advance, it's also expected to revolutionize the school's ability to help its students.

Connie Scheid, a nurse at Riverside Central as well as Addie's mother, said the ability to offer remote examinations will go a long way toward helping students in the community who need medical care.

"We have kids that may not be able to have access to a care provider as quickly as some," Scheid said. "It's a huge opportunity to be able to keep our students in school healthy and learning as opposed to at home waiting to be seen potentially. We have a population too that's new to the U.S. that may not have been able to establish care yet. It's a much quicker option for them and less disruptive to their lives."

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01 TytoCare Device at Riverside Central Elementary School
Lida Casper, the Community Schools site facilitator at Riverside Central Elementary School, Connie Scheid, a licensed school nurse who works at Riverside, and Addie Scheid, 9, Connie's daughter, use a TytoCare device, which can be used by staff at Riverside to connect a patient and health care provider virtually, for a practice medical exam on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, at the school in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Parents will have to sign off on the school providing virtual exams for their students.

Lida Casper, facilitator for Riverside's Community Schools program, explained how the option will be good for families across the board.

"There's lots of kids who have barriers, but there's also just the barrier of being a working parent," Casper said.

During the dry run, Scheid walked her daughter through the process. As Addie sat still, Scheid put a handheld device in her ear. A small screen on the outside of the device showed the inner-working's of her ear.

TytoCare Device at Riverside Central Elementary School
Connie Scheid, a licensed school nurse who works at Riverside Central Elementary School, and Addie Scheid, 9, Connie's daughter, use a TytoCare device, which can be used by staff at Riverside to connect a patient and health care provider virtually, for a practice medical exam on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, at the school in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

In addition to the screen on the device, the image also appeared on the split-screen of a nearby tablet. A physician assistant, Karen Townsend, appeared on the other half of the split screen, making sure everything was working from the clinic's side of things.

"That's her eardrum," Townsend said as she saw the image appear.

The check up continued. They placed the device against Addie's forehead to get a temperature. She then held it up against her chest, and her heartbeats began to register.

"I can hear it just fine," Townsend said about Addie's heartbeat.

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04 TytoCare Device at Riverside Central Elementary School
Connie Scheid, a licensed school nurse who works at Riverside Central Elementary School, Lida Casper, the Community Schools site facilitator at Riverside, and Addie Scheid, 9, Connie's daughter, set up a TytoCare device, which can be used by staff at Riverside to connect a patient and health care provider virtually, for a practice medical exam on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, at the school in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

The school isn't officially using the TytoCare device yet, although they expect to in the near future. Getting the ability to offer remote examinations is something the school and the clinic have been working on for more than a year.

After Scheid and Addie wrapped up the practice exam, the school officials began a conference call with partners from the Mayo Clinic. Michael Luker, Mayo Clinic operations manager, emphasized the significance of having the new technology in the school system during the call.

"I think it's important to know that everybody on this call is part of a move to transform medicine," he said. "This is huge. It's a great accomplishment. And we can look now to the future of providing health care in a different way."

03 TytoCare Device at Riverside Central Elementary School
Connie Scheid, a licensed school nurse who works at Riverside Central Elementary School, and Addie Scheid, 9, Connie's daughter, use a TytoCare device, which can be used by staff at Riverside to connect a patient and health care provider virtually, for a practice medical exam on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, at the school in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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