BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- KidCheck, an award-winning school-based health-screening program in Alabama that is the only one of its kind in the country, can continue to expand its wireless screening technology, launched in September, with a $25,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic institution of Verizon.
Through a previous $100,000 grant from the Foundation, KidCheck developed a unique online health screening software program to increase efficiency of the screening process, data collection, and the coordination of follow-up services. KidCheck has screened over 12,000 K-12 Alabama school children wirelessly since they began using the new wireless software on September 1.
KidCheck began providing free health screenings to students in rural Alabama schools in 2008, and in the beginning all health screening results were captured on paper. Working in conjunction with school nurses, all screening results had to be sorted manually which slowed down the coordination of follow-up services and made data collection and analysis extremely difficult. The idea to move from a paper-based screening system to a wireless system originated from Auburn University, and their College of Engineering and School of Nursing successfully piloted a wireless screening system at KidCheck events in 2010 through a Verizon Foundation grant.
Chad Nichols, Senior Director of KidCheck for Sight Savers America, which manages the statewide program, said, "The KidCheck program has changed the lives of young people simply by identifying health issues such as vision, dental, blood pressure, hearing and other problems that can impact the child's health and their performance in school."
Saranda Blythe, 15, a student at J.B. Pennington High School in Blount County, learned over the course of a few years participating in KidCheck that she suffered from a nervous system disorder called dysautonomia.
"They realized I had vision problems, then a couple years later my blood pressure came back abnormal and they realized I had scoliosis," Blythe said. "If it wasn't for them figuring out those tidbits, I might not have known I had dysautonomia and I might not have received the proper treatment."
The ability to electronically track screening results from year to year will make it easier for KidCheck to identify health issues like Blythe's.
"It all comes back to the students," Nichols said. "The investment we have made in partnership with Verizon on this wireless database system will result in more Alabama students getting the care they need. We knew we could make a much more significant impact if we could track screening results electronically and connect families to follow up care more efficiently."
Prior to using the new wireless software Nichols recalled the volume of paperwork slowed down the entire process including the screenings, notification of screening results to parents, coordination of follow-up care, and data analysis.
"The KidCheck program's wireless screening process is an incredible model for using technology to provide better access to healthcare to children in rural parts of Alabama, and it is exactly the kind of program that the Verizon Foundation looks to support," said Jonathan LeCompte, president – Verizon Wireless, Georgia/Alabama Region.
Now the wireless screening process allows KidCheck to track each student's screening results using an electronic ID number. Students with health concerns are flagged in the system and KidCheck works with school nurses and other partners to identify follow-up care options. Sight Savers America case manages the coordination of necessary follow-up eye care for each child failing a KidCheck vision screening. As KidCheck returns to schools next year, they will be able to compare screening results year-to-year in the database using the student's electronic ID.
At a recent wireless screening event, KidCheck staff set up wireless notebooks at screening stations around a high school gym or auditorium. Screenings are conducted under faculty supervision by college nursing students from one of the 24 Alabama two and four year college nursing schools that partner with KidCheck. In rural areas that don't have broadband internet service, KidCheck connects to the online database via Verizon's 3G wireless data network.
For more information, volunteering opportunities or to make a donation to Sight Savers America's KidCheck program please visit http://sightsaversamerica.org/kidcheck/.
About The Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation helps people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by addressing disparities in education, health care and sustainability. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with nearly 109 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 194,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.