USA TODAY: "Complex/often-chronic health conditions soar among children"; more school nurses needed

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

April 11, 2019, USA Today: The school nurse is often still out as kids' health problems like suicide, allergies soar …As complex and often-chronic health conditions soar among children, worsened in some areas by the return of diseases largely eliminated by vaccines, full-time school nurses remain hard to find. About 40% of schools only budget for a part-time school nurse, and 25% have no nurse at all, the National Association of School Nurses says. "School-based health clinics," which are typically run by local hospitals, are an increasingly attractive solution, growing by 20% between fall 2010 and fall 2013, according to the School-based Health Alliance. At that point, there were 2,315 of these clinics. School nurses and parents who rely on them say the clinics – rare as they are among the 100,000 public schools in the U.S. – aren't enough. Along with the primary care services the clinics provide, more school nurses and mental health professionals are also needed, groups representing the health care providers say – especially with teen and even preteen suicides increasing. … Although schools increasingly offer mental health services, demand still outpaces supply. School nurses and psychologists or social workers collaborate. … Against that backdrop, slightly more than half of students in public schools live in poverty, notes Mazyck. That increases the risk of household and neighborhood trauma, which can exacerbate conditions such as anxiety and asthma. School shootings and the security measures adopted in response also heighten students' anxiety. … Suicide, stress and addiction may steal the headlines when it comes to teen health, but there are growing physical health problems as well. Combe, who managed health services for her school district in Houston, notes that as hospitals save premature infants at earlier ages, some of these children's health needs follow them through life – and school. Some, she says, have feeding tubes in their stomachs and "need health care provision within the walls of the school." Americans' increasing obesity has ensnared the schoolyard set, too. Type 2 diabetes is becoming far more common among overweight children and teens, and Type 1 tends to afflict students beginning at about 14 years old. The school nurse shortage can complicate diabetes care. And American children are having more severe allergic reactions, too. Denie Gorbey-Creese, a Maryland school nurse who splits her time between two schools, has four diabetic students at one elementary school. …