Something familiar catches my eye on the right side of the road. In these early morning travels through rural South Carolina, there's something exciting about seeing fields of hay, corn, and other green things unidentifiable through the car window. Almost two hours from SCETV headquarters in Columbia, the 'My Telehealth' video production team pulls up to Hemingway Elementary School. The school is just one of 29 other schools in South Carolina that offer students school-based telehealth through the school nurse's office.
This particular day, we are following a 4th-grader named Tristen. He's an aspiring actor who relayed to us, much to his mother's dismay, that when he was "little," he swallowed a quarter. There's no such thing as a boring day with this job, and this day was no different. Also, it's not every day a 4th-grader takes it upon himself to give you his autograph.
Tristen uses telehealth to be seen by a pediatrician. The doctor is from the Medical University of South Carolina. Taylor Crouch, producer for the My Telehealth series, finds the telehealth process amazing. "I didn't realize how crucial the bond was between the MUSC doctor, the school nurse, and the student. At the end of the consultation, the MUSC doctor asked the student for a high five through the video, and the student obliged without hesitation." Crouch adds, "Everyone laughed, but watching this interaction elevated my understanding for their relationship and how a video consultation is no obstacle for treating serious issues."
Marina Ziehe makes up the other half of the My Telehealth team. Taking on a project such as this, there's never a shortage of information to digest. "I learn something new pretty much every day. I have been learning a lot about different telehealth practices and how they work, but the coolest thing is seeing how much collaboration and teamwork all of that requires. One person can’t do it all."
It's these relationships that make the collaborative nature of telehealth within the network of the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance so interesting. For Crouch, cultivating those relationships with people in the Palmetto State is priceless. "Spending time with the people we interview is my favorite part of covering a story. Whether it's watching a fourth-grader take an art class, or a school nurse attending to a student, it is in these moments you find more than the questions you ask in an interview." Ziehe adds that it's all about the stories. "I catch myself thinking about these stories during the day, and they really make a difference in my life."