Reducing K-12 Absenteeism with School-Based Pediatric Telehealth

Express Talk

April 14, 2019 | 2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. CDT

When children are healthy, they are better prepared to learn – but approximately 21% of children in the United States live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Many of these children have inadequate health insurance or limited access to healthcare practitioners, often relying on expensive ER visits. With poor health linked to chronic absenteeism, high quality medical care is critical to improving outcomes in healthcare and education. When school districts in California implemented a virtual school-based clinic, available to every child, attendance rates improved significantly. Less than half of families in these districts reported having regular access to a primary care provider, and programs like these provide much-needed access to healthcare while reducing absence rates by up to 50% to give students more instructional hours in the classroom.

In this session, Robert Darzynkiewicz, a practicing physician and Chief Medical Officer at Hazel Health, will share how school-based telehealth can treat and help prevent some of the most common emergency ailments that represent 56% of avoidable ER visits. He will explore the best practices for successfully implementing a patient-centric clinical model that focuses on building relationships with school staff and families to support overall health. He will also discuss the correlation between health and attendance, and how implementing a virtual school-based clinic can help identify children who are at risk for chronic health issues so schools can provide preventative care. Dr. Darzynkiewicz will describe the process for achieving 90% enrollment, integrating with the school setting, establishing the training requirements and approach used for defining district health policies, creating customized care plans for a targeted population largely unaddressed in telehealth, and protocol for referrals and sharing discharge information.


  • Robert Darzynkiewicz, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Hazel Health
  • Rose Bomentre, Director, Student Wellness & Support Services, San Bernardino City Unified School District