Ten-year-old Tayana Graham often rides her bicycle down the dirt road that leads to her home in Kingstree, South Carolina. She circles around the house a few times before hopping off to play basketball with her younger sister. But every now and then, she has to stop and take a breath from her rescue inhaler.
“I didn’t know I had asthma until I couldn’t breathe,” Tayana said.
After suffering with wheezing and shortness of breath for years, Tayana was finally diagnosed with asthma in 2016 by Kelli Garber, D.N.P. and clinical integration specialist with the Medical University of South Carolina’s Center for Telehealth.
For the last five years, Garber has continued to treat Tayana through the school-based telehealth program with MUSC.
“Our program is really unique in that we bring specialty pediatric care right to the students where they are every day in school,” Garber said. “Prior to our program being there, there was actually not a pediatric provider in the entire county.”
Williamsburg County was the first in the state to receive telehealth equipment in all of its public schools. By 2015, all students in the county had access to healthcare through the school-based telehealth program.
With the help of Lorrie Smart, the MUSC Telehealth presenter, Tayana is able to receive medical care at her school, Kenneth Garner Elementary. When Smart checks Tayana’s heart, lungs, ears, and throat, she uses instruments that allow Garber to see and hear everything that happens during the exam.
“Really it’s just the same as being at an actual doctor's visit. I’m just the hands of the provider on the screen,” Smart said.
With her asthma under control, Garber said Tayana has excelled in school.
“Tayana hasn’t been back to the Emergency Room since before we started following her, which is a huge win but more importantly, she’s healthy, she’s happy, and she’s able to interact and do all the things that she would love to do,” Garber said.