Commentary

NC’s cheapskate General Assembly: Placing school children’s health and well-being at risk

Image: Mitchell County Schools

WRAL News had has an important and infuriating story last night that’s worth your time today. It’s about the outrageous dearth of school nurses in North Carolina and the way the state has had to turn to lightly-trained clerical personnel to address the health needs of thousands of schoolchildren. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were watching/reading about a Third World country. This is from “As student medical needs mount, school nurses in short supply”:

“North Carolina has 115 school systems, but, according to school system data, just five of those systems have a nurse dedicated to every school, which works out to one nurse for every 1,086 students.

With more and more children needing help with complex medical issues, that ratio can have consequences for school staff and students.”

After telling some harrowing stories of children provided by clerical personnel, the report continues:

“According to North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, the average school nurse covers two to three campuses, though some cover as many as six. Those ratios leave a lot of student medical care in the hands of school staff.

In September, Courtney Frederick’s 5-year-old ended up in an emergency room after a bookkeeper at a Harnett County Elementary school mistakenly gave her daughter, Malia, a double dose of an ADHD medication prescribed to a different student.

‘I was in disbelief, actually,’ Frederick said. ‘I was really mad.’

Frederick attributed the mix-up to school staffers overwhelmed.

‘Something went totally wrong,’ she said. ‘I think they were rushing and doing too many tasks at one time.’

A receptionist at Eastern Wayne Middle School also expressed concerns. She told WRAL News, ‘the amount of medicine I give on a daily basis would stun you!’ She said she was even stuck by a used lancet after a student tested their blood sugar.

While there is no training standard, each school nurse trains staff on how to administer first aid and how to give medicines. But the list of medical needs in modern classrooms is growing longer.

Research from the DHHS shows the average classroom has:

  • Two students on medication
  • Two with asthma
  • One with an attention deficit disorder
  • One with a life-threatening allergy
  • One student with a less common health condition, such as cancer, a feeding tube or a bleeding issue….

Only one school system in the WRAL viewing area has a full-time nurse in each school: Orange County. The NC Nurses association said that was the result of an effort by parents to have a full-time nurse on campus.”

This is truly a classic example of kind of cheapskate government promoted for so long by the anti-government “think tanks” in the Art Pope Empire (a group that spent years complaining about too many children getting free and reduced price school lunches). Unfortunately, as noted in Tuesday’s Weekly Briefing, school nurses are just one of a long list of essential areas in which the GOP-dominated General Assembly has slashed our schools since taking control in in 2011.

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