America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Classroom Clinic, Carroll
Sue Gehling, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner from Carroll, was frustrated by the children’s mental health crisis facing rural Iowa. Having lived in a rural community her entire life, she knew first-hand the struggles families faced trying to access care for their child. And as one of only a handful of children’s mental health providers in her area, she knew the current system wasn’t working. “The access issue had ripple effects in so many areas, including negatively impacting kids in the classroom,” Sue said. “I finally decided I needed step up and do more for my patients. There had to be a better way of doing things.”
So, in 2019, Sue started Classroom Clinic, a school-based telehealth business that provides rural school districts with access to children’s mental health services using telehealth and related technologies. “I realized schools were also facing a mental health crisis, particularly in rural Iowa. I could help more families if I started offering telehealth services directly into schools, which would be more convenient for the families.” Sue stated. Today, Classroom Clinic can connect children’s psychiatric providers directly to rural school districts throughout Iowa. Using a custom technology platform she created, her business is essentially the “bridge” between the healthcare and education silos. “This type of collaborative care approach has much better outcomes for kids struggling with mental health issues.”
Sue reached out to North Central Iowa SBDC for advice when she first began thinking of this venture. The Regional Director at the time, Kimberly Tiefenthaler, suggested she apply to the Iowa State University Start-Up Factory. Through the ISU Start-Up Factory program, Sue engaged in the customer discovery process. She talked directly to nearly 100 school administrators, teachers, special education teachers, and nurses to gather their perspective on what the pain points were, and what type of solution was needed. Sue didn’t stop there with her professional development; she also completed the 10,000 Small Businesses Goldman Sachs program. “I wouldn’t be here without the SBDC listening and encouraging me every step of the way,” says Sue. “In fact, they also helped me to apply to the Iowa G2M Accelerator. I’ve learned so much.”
Classroom Clinic is currently providing school-based telehealth services in 4 different districts within the state and is preparing to scale the business into many more school districts next year. “To me, this isn’t about the money. This is about the change we can affect in the child’s life,” says Sue. “One person CAN make a difference.”
For more information on Classroom Clinic, visit: https://www.classroomclinic.com