Provide More Florida School Nurses to Ensure Child Safety

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Our children spend nearly half of their waking hours in school, under the supervision of individuals other than their parents. Parents rely on these institutions to provide not only educational development and care, but most importantly — safety.

Unfortunately, such care and protection has been deeply underserved. This is attributable to the lack of on-site nurses in many schools across the nation, posing a great looming danger considering the increasingly complex health needs of students.

The nation’s third most populous and fourth fastest-growing state — Florida — ranks 42nd for student-per-school nurse ratio, according to the National Association of School Nurses. The state averages 1 nurse per 2,605 students, while the ratio in areas such as Lake County surges as high as 1 nurse to every 3,510 students.

These alarming statistics grossly exceed the levels recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who calls for a minimum of one full-time registered nurse in every school. Florida’s ratios even fall incredibly short of the AAP’s outdated standard of 1 school nurse to 750 students in the healthy student population.

In addition to sickness and accidents, chronic health issues such as asthma and allergies are prevalent among the youth. A recent presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology conference detailed various allergic reaction rates on the rise up 7% to as high as a 21%  increase.

A recent study, National School Nurse Survey of Epinephrine Use in Schools, presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 National Conference highlighted the need for epinephrine in schools, as well as trained staff to administer it. Nearly 25% of surveyed nurses reported the administration of life-saving epinephrine in their school during the past year, with 16.2% administered by unlicensed staff or students. Most alarming, is that 33.6% of administrations were to students who did not have an allergy known to the school and 10.8% of students having a severe allergic reaction required more than one dose of epinephrine before emergency medical responders arrived.

With children’s lives at risk, outside of parental supervision, it is necessary for schools to provide a better system of care and safety. Unfortunately, these needs are often constrained by budgetary demands.

The American Health Council, at the behest of its Affiliate nurses in the state of Florida, is calling for the state to allocate additional funds to its schools to bring the nurse-to-student ratio to comply with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation.

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