Nurse cut puts school health and safety at risk

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

I recently learned that the Board of Education is considering cutting the current school nurse supervisor position from full-time to part-time, at the superintendent’s recommendation. This unfortunate attempt to cut costs has far greater risks than it is worth.

I currently substitute for school nurses all over town. I’ve been able to safely step into another nurse’s caseload because of the competency and diligence of the current supervisor, who sets a high professional standard.

The superintendent has oversimplified the position if he thinks that the work is done once all the schools are staffed for the day and the “fires put out.” The supervisor stays up to date on state and federal health requirements, educates her staff about them and puts measures in place to ensure that the standards are met. She updates her staff on immunization and infection control requirements. She implements procedures to ensure that medications are stored and given in a safe manner. She provides educational opportunities to develop and challenge the staff so that we are better equipped to care for our pupils.

Some may think a school nurse just deals with Band-Aids, runny noses, and tummy aches, but we have many diabetic children requiring frequent intervention so that their blood sugar levels do not reach dangerous highs or lows. We have children with seizure disorders who may need emergency medication that only a nurse can administer. We have tube feedings and other skilled procedures that need to be done every day.

As a substitute nurse, I know that I can call upon my supervisor for any problem I may have. She is supportive and skilled, a diplomat with difficult parents who may not agree with my recommendations. She knows each school’s unique population and places nurses that are capable and comfortable with the tasks at hand. I’m not sure I would substitute if I didn’t have a skilled supervisor available throughout the day.

I urge the board and the superintendent to reconsider this cut. It is a shortsighted move that could end up costing much more than it saves.

 

Sue Asselin

Greenwich

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