N. Carolina: School nurse shortage; increased number of student health issues

April 9, 2018, Raleigh (NC) News Observer: NC is in desperate need of school nurses. Will it foot the $45 million to $79 million bill for more? There are so few nurses in North Carolina's public schools that a new state report says it could cost an additional $45 million to $79 million a year to help meet student health needs. There's one school nurse for every 1,086 students, according to a state legislative staff report, meaning the majority of student medical needs have to be met by non-nurses. …. For now, a legislative committee is considering a proposal to revise the state's recommended student-to-nurse ratio and to place nurses in the schools that have the greatest needs….. It’s more complex being a nurse now, according to Nienow, because they're dealing with an increased number of student health issues. More prematurely born children are surviving infancy, which has led to an increase in the number of students with moderate to severe disabilities. Schools also dealt with a 75 percent increase in student chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and food allergies from 2002-2015…. The report found that 76 percent of medication given to students is performed by non-nurses such as secretaries, teacher assistants, principals and assistant principals. Nienow said this cost the state's educational budget the equivalent of $15 million a year.