Stanford, CA: Medical needs of students overwhelm school nurses

Aug 2, 2017, Stanford (CA) Peninsula Press: School nurses face challenges meeting health needs of all students In a recent Friday, minutes before noon, Judy Camerlengo met a second grader for diabetic care in her office, a small room with a desk, cork board, cot bed and medicine cabinet at a Redwood City elementary school.... “The state of school nursing has changed in the last 20 years that I have been a school nurse,” Camerlengo said. “When I first started we were at one school site the whole day. But now the medical needs of our students have changed and there’s more demand for direct care during school hours.” ... Camerlengo said when she first started there was one student with diabetes in the district. Now there are six.... After a hectic lunch hour of health treatments and first aid, Camerlengo said many nurses eat lunch while driving to the next school. She estimated a nurse averages 30 students a day for first aid, in addition to providing diabetic care, dispensing routine prescriptions and asthma treatments, tending to allergic reactions, caring for students with epilepsy and other medical conditions, filing paperwork, following up with doctors, creating care plans and organizing screenings. … While an anaphylaxis reaction, a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, is rare, she said that with an increase in food allergies, her team is more commonly preparing for this type of emergency. Licensed vocational nurses, who work under the supervision of registered nurses, cover school sites with seizures when a registered nurse isn’t there. With an increase in students requiring one-on-one care and nurses rotating school sites daily, office staff and teachers in Redwood City, like many school districts today, are trained to handle first aid and other medical care when a nurse isn’t on site, including how to administer EpiPens and seizure protocol. Camerlengo said parents are called more frequently to pick up students as well. … The nurses also oversee care for medically fragile students, some of whom may have more than one diagnosis. Valerie Cantrell, a nurse in the district, serves a majority of the medically fragile children. ... … Experts are concerned that with the continued increase in medical conditions, the workload on small nursing teams will undermine the ability to provide support to all children.