Public health nursing services in Madison County Schools will be reduced in the coming school year as a result of budgetary constraints, the Madison County Health Department and the school district announced Wednesday.

“I am delivering this news with great sadness,” said Nancy Crewe, public health director. “This is not a decision we’ve made lightly. Our school health program is of the highest quality and serves as a model for other programs statewide. We value our partnership with Madison County Schools, and we will remain committed to providing the best quality services with the resources we have.”

Plans were announced to reduce by four the number of health department-employed registered nurses providing services in school-based health clinics. The health department will complete staffing reductions by June 30. The resulting decreases in staffing will be in effect at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. 

“The district will continue its current financial commitment to the school nurse program and will continue to support the Madison County Health Department’s mission to provide services to this community,” said Superintendent Tommy Floyd. “We know the benefits our students receive in having the school nurse program and we are glad the health department has been such a good partner with the district.”

Rising personnel costs, in the form of increased employer contributions to health insurance and the Kentucky Retirement System, have contributed to higher operating expenses overall for local health departments in recent years. Separately, the Department for Medicaid Services requirement that local health departments “pay back” 28 percent of reimbursements for preventive health services in fiscal year 2012 creates a gap in revenue that is unsustainable. Crewe said.

The projected loss of preventive Medicaid revenue for the 2012 school nurse program is nearly $200,000.00

School-based public health clinics are a local option service that health departments can choose to provide.

“Without making changes to reduce expenses, 20 percent of the local tax dollars allocated for the health department would be needed to operate this program in fiscal year 2012,” Crewe said.

Services provided at school health clinics include school physicals, well child exams, hearing and vision screenings, sick visits, immunizations and development of emergency action plans for children with special health needs. Nurses also provide insulin injections for students with diabetes, and assist with referrals to the Learn Well, Be Well clinics.

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