Virtual medicine: UNT Health Science Center opens clinic at UNT Dallas
By Diane Smith
A physician assistant and doctor in Fort Worth are treating student patients in Dallas through a new virtual medicine program at UNT Health Science Center.
As part of the program, sick students at UNT Dallas can schedule appointments and be examined by a physician assistant or a doctor in Fort Worth.
Physician Assistant Monica Summerhill, who treats patients at the UNT Health Science Center Student Health Clinic and Priority Care Clinic, has been seeing about four to five patients via the virtual technology each week.
“I think this method of healthcare delivery is going to become more popular amongst providers and patients – especially as the technology improves,” Summerhill said.
The telemedicine project began with a “soft opening” in December.
Dr. Michael Williams, President of the Health Science Center, said the new virtual patient care is an example of how partnerships can fill gaps in student and health care services.
“We are excited about being able to be a part of bringing a higher level of care to the students at UNT Dallas.” Dr. Williams said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The new UNT Dallas Student Health Clinic is the result of a collaborative effort by UNT Dallas, the Health Science Center and UNT System’s facilities operations.
The clinic is housed in new student center located on the Dallas campus, which has an enrollment of about 3,800 students and overlooks downtown Dallas.
“This is a collective effort,” said UNT Dallas President Bob Mong during the opening ceremony. “This is the way it should work. Our students came to us. They said, ‘We are willing to pay a fee to have on campus health care services.’ We jumped on that. We worked with them.”
Dr. Jamaica Chapple, Assistant Vice President for Student Access and Success and Dean of Students at UNT Dallas, said students sought a facility that could meet their medical needs on campus.
“We usually had to refer them out,” said Dr. Chapple, explaining that meant students had to find medical help about five or six miles from campus.
The virtual medical visits are expected to save time and money for UNT Dallas students, who pay a $25 per semester fee for health care services. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the visits.
At the Health Science Center, Summerhill moves between patients in Fort Worth and Dallas effortlessly with help from LaQuisha Robinson, a nurse at UNT Dallas who preps patients for the virtual medical visits.
Robinson, a licensed vocational nurse, uses a triage system at the Dallas clinic. She helps students with their appointments. Students can walk in or call for appointments. They can also schedule them online.
“We are able to do a visit except that I am here and they are there,” Summerhill said, explaining how Robinson has a computer on wheels equipped with USB devices that allow her to listen to a patient’s heart and lungs.
Summerhill can also check a patient’s ears and throat using images transmitted on a computer.
“I do vitals and she talks to them over the monitor,” Robinson said.
Fernando Lomeli, a senior at UNT Dallas, said the virtual clinic is great.
“It is using new technology that we are going to see in the future,” he said.