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Chicago Trib: IL school nurses deal with "increase each year" in students with health issues

Feb 15, 2019, Chicago Tribune: So much more than Band-Aids: Youth health issues increasing as the average Illinois school nurse serves 2,900 students …And just last Wednesday, less than a week after Callahan’s rescue, the school certified nurse at Delta alternative school in Robbins used an EpiPen to save a student who was having a serious allergic reaction. District 218’s schools staff certified school nurses — a title given to nurses who have both the registered nurse license plus the school certification — and yet Featherstone said staff is lobbying for more health aides. “We’re seeing an increase each year in the number of students with health issues,” Featherstone said. “We’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of diabetics and students with other disease processes.” In addition to tending to the needs of students with chronic or acute conditions, nurses also make sure procedures, policies and individual education processes for special needs students are followed…. “We have students here with known cardiac diagnoses, students who have seizures, students who take medications that we monitor, and many insulin-dependent diabetics who are in and out of our office everyday,” Callahan said. “We go into a multi-needs classroom everyday, several times a day, for some of our medically fragile students.” … “In the Chicago area and the collar counties, there is a more robust supply of school nurses in the buildings,” she said. “But some of the districts with funding issues have cut back on nurses.” In addition to the scrapes, bruises, stomach aches and everyday illnesses, school nurses treat an array of ongoing conditions that reflect societal trends, Vollinger said. “We have babies being born earlier and earlier. They go home with health issues and those babies grow up and come to school. So all those medical needs associated with pre-maturity come to school too. We have students with tracheotomy tubes, students on ventilators, students who have g-tubes,” she said. “But even regular education students bring an array of issues, such as food allergies,” she said. …


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