The Richmond Register

August 6, 2013

Nurses prepare for the new school year

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — Madison County Schools’ 11 nurses gathered in the school health program office at the Bellevue Learning Center on Tuesday in preparation for students’ return Aug. 14.

The group of women were reviewing staff assignments, discussing procedures and taking an inventory of medical supplies, but they also were celebrating the fact that they were all sitting there, together.

In February, the Madison County Health Department announced that it would end its school-based clinic with both Madison County and Berea Community school districts at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

The health department cited rising personnel costs and reductions in Medicaid reimbursements as its reason for discontinuing the 20-plus year partnership.

Eight school nurses were laid off at the end of the year and “were waiting in limbo” until the Madison County School Board voted to hire the nurses as its own employees in mid-June, said Michelle Mallicote, who previously was the health department’s school health program director, and now works for the district as its FEMA coordinator.

All eight nurses were hired by the district and two more left the health department in July to join the team. The eleventh member of the nursing team is Becky Carr, who was already an employee of the district as its nurse coordinator.

The nurses will staff high schools three times a week and will alternate two times one week and three times the next at elementary and middle schools. Registered nurse Christa Martin will staff Mayfield Elementary full-time.

However, a nurses’ job doesn’t end with assessing sick children in school.

Earlier Tuesday, the nurses conducted medication delegation and emergency training with nearly 400 district employees, including teachers, para-professionals and administrative staff.

Staff members are trained to administer both routine medicines (such as Ritalin or high-blood pressure pills) and emergency medicines (such as EpiPens or glucagon for diabetes) when the school nurses are not in the buildings.

Near the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the nurses divided up the supplies left behind by the health department such as vision cabinets (for testing eyes), audiometers (for ears), oxygen tanks and emergency kits.

However, all of the thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes and otoscopes will need to be replaced, and a few pieces of equipment will be shared among the nurses until additional equipment can be ordered or donated.

During the first few days of school, nurses will be reviewing every student’s health services consent form (the pink one), which will go home with students on the first day of school.

Those forms must be returned the next day, Malicote said. Nurses will then begin working on emergency action plans for students with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, severe allergies, seizures or other issues.

Once EAPs are developed for each student, every district employee who may come in contact with that child will be trained on that student’s special health-care needs.

Completion of these forms are incredibly important, Malicote said, especially for students with special health care needs who are entering the district for the first time.

Guardians of students with special needs are encouraged to contact their schools before they begin Aug. 14 so nurses can get a jump start on their EAPs, she said. Parents also may participate in the employee training sessions concerning their children's EAPs.

All children entering the school district for the first time must have a valid Kentucky immunization certificate; a physical examination conducted within one year prior to entering school; an eye exam; and a dental screening.

Children entering the sixth grade also must have a physical exam and an updated immunization record.

Look in the Richmond Register this weekend for an in-depth look about what nurses do in schools each day.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.