The week of May 6 – May 12 is recognized as National Nurses Week. As of 2003, National School Nurses Day is celebrated on the Wednesday of National Nurses Week.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department employs about 90 registered nurses – a number of whom tend to a very select group of people: students in the Fayette County Public Schools.
These school nurses also deal with a fairly select list of medical needs, including diabetes, asthma, allergies and seizures, and must be prepared for a host of medical emergencies.
This school year, Cardinal Valley, Millcreek and Mary Todd elementary schools have nursing clinics. Arlington, Harrison, Tates Creek and William Wells Brown have HealthFirst Bluegrass clinics on campus. The rest of the district’s schools share about two dozen rotating nurses.
The school assignments change from year to year due to budget changes and staff availability, said Senior Team Leader Nurse Specialist and Lansdowne Elementary nurse Michelle Marra, but every school has at least a part-time nurse.
“Over the past five years, since I’ve been in this position, the demands, the needs of the students have certainly increased,” said Marra. “It just requires more attention.”
School nurses also train school staff members to give medicine or perform other first aid tasks if a nurse is unavailable.
“Fayette County stands pretty firmly that we will meet the needs of the student in the schools that they’re supposed to go to,” Marra said. “We will ensure that we have a nurse available when they need to be there.”
On a daily basis, these school nurses deal with children with life-threatening allergies, diabetes and asthma, Marra said.
“We develop individual health-care plans for any student who has a health-care need that has to be addressed daily,” Marra said.
One of the benefits of having nurses present in school is the care they provide that keeps students in school.
“We have criteria that we use, if a student needs to go home, we’re absolutely going to send them home. But we’ve definitely found that when a nurse is in the building and we’re able to see the student and assess what’s going on and communicate with the parents, we’re able to keep them there and get them back into class,” Marra said.
If a nurse finds that a student is feeling ill often, they can help address the health issue and direct them towards the appropriate care, so he or she can be treated and back into the classroom, Marra said.
The health department also employs nurses who work in a variety of other areas, including diabetes programs, community education, primary care clinic and the HANDS program that provides mentors and guidance for first-time parents.
During the 2011- 2012 school year, FCPS School Nurses have:
· Seen 41,838 students this school year for an acute illness or an injury.
· Assessed 15,458 students who have chronic condition s such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, medication, seizures, etc. and given them a medical treatment.
· Made 21,860 telephone calls or sent written communications with parents of students regarding their health status.
· Reviewed 13,325 Immunization Records and entered them into Infinite Campus.
· Reviewed 12,386 Physical Exams, Dental and Vision Screenings and entered them into Infinite Campus.
· Trained 1,700 FCPS school staff members to administer medications to students.
· Completed 10,479 student health screenings.
· Given free blood pressure readings to 1,251 FCPS staff members.
· Addressed medical concerns or questions to 2,928 FCPS staff members.
Statistics from Lexington-Fayette County Health Department