A Nurse for Every School

A bill that would ensure every K-12 school is staffed with a nurse is making its way through the Virginia legislative process.

HB 1757, introduced by Delegate L Mark Dudenhefer (R), goes before a House appropriations committee tomorrow. A group called School Nurses Taking Action supported the measure with a rally at the state Capitol last week.

“In a school setting, we may be the only link to emergency medical care that a child or a staff has, and the problem is even more amplified when you try to get laypeople who act as emergency care providers to try to do that work. You can’t expect a teacher to act as a nurse in an emergency situation to the same level of training as a registered nurse,” said school nurse Dana Holladay-Hollifield, a founder of the group.

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“We take care of children with all kinds of acuities, chronic asthma, daily feedings, diabetes… these are tasks that can only be done by a nurse. The third leading cause of death in the US is medical errors, and when you start thinking about delegating those tasks to unlicensed laypeople in Virginia, I can’t help but think that that could increase the chance of those errors.”

In an interview with NBC12, Holladay-Hollifield added, “When I started working in Virginia schools, I had to walk away from my practice because I couldn’t protect my license. They (Virginia public schools) have unlicensed, unregulated laypeople we must delegate medical procedure to.”

Holladay-Hollifield said that if a school health aide makes an error in treating a child’s condition, it is the nurse’s license that is at risk.

“To ask an unlicensed layperson to handle a medical emergency like that is unrealistic,” she said.

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The legislation is specific regarding staffing levels for school nurses:

Local school boards shall employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position in each elementary school, middle school, and high school in the local school division and at least one full-time equivalent school nurse position per 1,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.

We at SnackSafely.com enthusiastically support efforts to ensure adequate staffing of schools with trained nurses and applaud the efforts of School Nurses Taking Action and Delegate Dudenhefer.

Especially now, with an average of two children in every classroom coping with food allergies and 20% of school incidents of anaphylaxis occurring in children not previously diagnosed with food allergy, trained medical staff must be close at hand at all times to recognize symptoms and administer emergency care while waiting for emergency medical personnel to respond.

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