N. Carolina: More school nurses needed for kids with asthma, diabetes, and severe allergies

Jan 22, 2018, WRAL—TV, Raleigh, NC: Study: Need for school nurses growing in NC, could cost $79M a year The need for nurses in North Carolina public schools is growing, but the state would need to dedicate up to $79 million a year to meet the recommended school nurse-to-student ratio, according to a new study released Monday by the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division. Fewer than half of North Carolina's school districts (46 of 115) meet the ratio of one school nurse for every 750 students, as recommended by the National Association of School Nurses and State Board of Education. … Other highlights from the study include: The need for school nurses is growing due to increased attendance by exceptional children and students with chronic conditions as well as laws and policies expanding the health care responsibilities of schools. … In many North Carolina public schools, school staff have to provide medical care to students. 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. In the past 15 years, the North Carolina General Assembly has passed legislation related to chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and severe allergies, further expanding the roles and responsibilities of school nurses. Research from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services 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. During the 2015-16 school year, North Carolina public school nurses had 2,220,622 student encounters. More than 9 percent of the total student population received medication at school, and nurses helped 11,512 students with complex procedures, such as using an insulin pump, feeding tube or catheter. Nurses provided 396,199 counseling sessions to students regarding health, mental health and emotional issues, including screening for suicide risk.