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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Nurses Added to Reduce Health Services Gap at Public Schools

• District Addresses Array of Concerns

BY JULIE WALLACH


The Board of Education voted last Thursday to reinstate two nursing positions based on coverage and enrollment after a detailed description of how shortages are negatively affecting students districtwide.
Webster Elementary staffs a nurse one half day to one day per week. Point Dume is covered one half day per week. Malibu Middle and High School has one full-time nurse for 1213 students. Juan Cabrillo has a nurse on site three and a half days per week.
Lora Dorn, Coordination Nurse for the district presented the challenges and detrimental effects of decreased staffing. Dorn mentioned that based on staff sending children home needlessly without nurse assessment, many children suffer by falling behind in school.
“The nurse’s main function is assessment,” Dorn said, adding that “nurses can tell if a student needs to be sent home or can stay in school. If a student has no fever and is not vomiting they should be able to stay in school. Staff members are sometimes unable to make that assessment and send children home needlessly. We could see an achievement gap with kids going home when they don’t need to.”
Patel asked Dorn how many calls were made to 911 since the decrease in staffing. Dorn said that one 911 call was placed that she is aware of during the current academic year. Paramedics assessed the student and found it unnecessary to transmit the student to a hospital. The student stayed in school.
While some students are needlessly sent home, others may have a contagious disease and should not attend school, or be sent home until they recover. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease with a new outbreak in California this year.
According to the CDC’s website, “from January to November 30, 2010, more than 7200 cases of pertussis were reported throughout California. This is the most cases reported in 63 years.”
Dorn noted that because of the outbreak,“Nurses have to go through every record to find out if students had pertussis vaccinations before the age of seven, then send home a note to parents to get them immunized.”
Additional nursing time is assigned to schools where there is at least one diabetic student. If there are no diabetic students at a given campus, staffing time is reduced to one half-day to one day per week regardless of enrollment. The assigned nurse may need to leave to treat a diabetic student at another campus.
Nurses assess communicable diseases such as H1N1, chicken pox, conjunctivitis, strep, lice, mononucleosis and hand, foot and mouth disease. Additionally, nurses care for students with over 50 health conditions, including asthma, diabetes I and II, fractures, allergies and various psychological/psychiatric issues such as ADHD, anxiety and depression.
Additionally, nurses are an integral part of child abuse reporting, emergency care, employee wellness such as flu shots and TB test renewals; special education student observation; hearing screenings; medical referrals; scoliosis screening; social welfare referrals; and student health counseling.

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