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What is happening to school nurses on the First Coast?

9:59 AM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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If your child has a medical emergency at school, who is there to care for them?

First For You, we looked into why some districts don't have a school nurse available during the school day and who is left in charge of providing medical care in case of an emergency.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, Florida ranks 48th and Georgia ranks 46th when it comes to a student per nurse ratio.

In Duval County, school nurses are supervised by the Duval County Health Department. There are around 62 nurses connected to the Duval County Public School system. Each nurse is assigned 8 to 9 schools, so he or she must rotate between the schools.  

The Duval County Health Department says when a nurse is not present at a school, "the school principal designates administrative staff for training by the school nurse in basic administration of medications and other procedural needs."

First Coast News did request an interview through the Duval County Health Department with the person in charge of the school nurse program, but was told the person we needed to speak with was not available last week while we were preparing this story. However, he or she will be able to speak with us this week so we can follow up on this story.

We requested the number of school nurses in each county on the First Coast five years ago and currently.

Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties have increased their numbers of school nurses over the last five years. Camden, Charlton and Union Counties have decreased. Baker and Nassau Counties have stayed the same.

Ware, Putnam, Columbia, Bradford and Brantley Counties did not respond to our request for numbers.

In Glynn County, the public relations director for the school system, Jim Weidhaas, said having at least one nurse assigned full-time at each school is a priority.

At Risley Middle School, Nurse Peyton Bryan sees at least 50 children a day. She sees everything from ear aches to administering medicine and for some families, she is the only medical care they can afford.

"In this day with no insurance and families are struggling. They just can't get kids to the doctor," said Nurse Bryan.

Nurse Bryan said it is an injustice to parents and students to not have a nurse on campus at all times during the school day.

"It is going to take one wrongful death, God forbid, or negligence. A person that is not a nurse cannot make a decision about whether a child's lungs sound clear or whether it is an asthma attack," says Nurse Bryan.

So here is the bottom line: If you don't know if there is a school nurse present at your child's school or if they work on a rotation, call the school or your county's school board and ask. You have right to know who is distributing your child's medicine or who is available in case of an emergency.


First Coast News

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