Completing an effort several years in the making, the Booneville School District will be able to offer medical services to its students on campus beginning next year.

They will do so through a telemedicine agreement with Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The school board approved the contract Tuesday and interim superintendent Scotty Pierce signed the document before ACH representative Carla Sparks.

The district had, on at least three occasions, discussed and or applied for a grant to start a wellness center but those efforts were dismissed and or rejected. A telemedicine agreement was reached which would have started the service this school year but that was delayed, Sparks said, due to the passage of a bill that required ACH to connect with local primary care physicians.

ACH representatives met with Mercy, who Sparks and Booneville Elementary School assistant principal Jyme Beth Diffee said, are listed as the primary care providers for 96 percent of the school district students, and Sparks said characterized the relationship between the two providers as “good.”

The contract requirements for the school district, Sparks said, are primarily providing a space for the service, internet connection, consent forms signed to allow kids to be seen — Sparks said Children’s will assist with that — have an RN on staff, $450 in certification costs to use the machines, for which Sparks said Children’s will also assist.

In practice a Children’s pediatrician will be “seeing” the students electronically and in the presence of the RN — this district has an RN on staff.

Children’s will be able to not only see students via telecommunication carts and will also be able to conduct lab work, test for the flu and do urinalysis.

“That’s going to be very, very helpful for us,” Diffee said.

Sparks said Children’s also requests that those lab tests be used only for the specific reasons for which they were conducted.

The telemedicine machines cost about $30,000 each, Sparks said, a cost that will be borne by Children’s through a USDA grant. Children’s is also responsible for insurance on the devices.

The term of the contract is one year and will renew automatically unless the district chooses to opt out of the service.

Billing, for the time being, is a non-issue, Sparks said, because state law currently doesn’t allow for Children’s to bill for their services.

In other matters last week the board approved the purchase of 100 desktop computers with 30 each going to the K-3, 4-6 and junior high impact lab and 10 going to the elementary school computer lab.

The machines, which cost $64,057.50, are replacing machines that are five and six years old, Pierce said.