Stories From The Heart
A School Nurse’s Story
The school social worker called the school nurse concerning a student that was suspected to be struggling with anorexia. The nurse asked to meet with the student and the social worker. During the meeting, it was revealed that the student:
- had experienced sudden and significant weight loss;
- was a “picky eater”, but ate high calorie foods daily;
- had no pattern of regular or excessive exercise;
- was much more “emotional” than normal;
- had recently been “sick”; and
- had not had a menstrual period in “a while”.
For the school nurse, red flags popped up suggesting that a physical health issue, rather than the “suspected anorexia”, might be the primary cause of the signs and symptoms reported. The school nurse made immediate contact with the parent to discuss what had been shared at school and to gather additional information. After determining that the student had a regular and easily accessible primary care provider, the school nurse recommended that the parent call the primary care provider that afternoon. The student was examined by the primary care provider, who quickly suspected the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. The parent was instructed to take the student to the local children’s hospital where the student was admitted, the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes was confirmed, and treatment was started. Upon discharge from the hospital, medical orders for the student’s care at school were written. Prior to the student’s return to school, the school nurse met with the student, her family, and school staff to establish a safe and appropriate plan for treatment and support at school, which included diabetes training for school staff provided by the school nurse. Regular communication between the student, school staff, school nurse, and parent has helped to support positive health and academic outcomes for the student.
Story from a mother of a son with migraine headaches
Hello, I’m a mother of 2 boys that just moved to Menominee, Michigan. On the first day of school my younger son started having a migraine in class (he is prone to those when he is stressed and hot) and asked to go to the nurse. Instead of sending him to the nurse he was told to sit in front of a fan and hold a ziplock bag up to his mouth in case he got sick. I was VERY upset to find him hyperventilating outside when I went to pick them up from school. I called the school when I got home and was told that there was no school nurse on staff at their school and that SHE was the closest thing that they had to a nurse….the office lady. I can’t believe that my children’s new school has no nurse. I don’t feel safe having them attend school there now. I’m thinking of having them attend private school but I can’t afford it. What if there was an emergency. Is this “office lady” certified in CPR? Does she know what to do if a child is having an asthma attack (which my son does have from time to time)? What if a child has a seizure? What will she do then? Call 911? This is very disturbing on many levels. What can be done to fix this? ~ Michigan Parent
Story from a mother of four children with Celiac Disease
As the mother of 5 children, 4 of whom have Celiac Disease and our school age, I would love to see school nurses back in our buildings. While the office staff at my children’s school is wonderful, loving and caring, they are not trained in medical emergencies. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself when gluten is ingested. My children must avoid ingesting even trace amounts gluten. Constant exposure can cause a whole slew of problems, including other autoimmune diseases and even colon cancer. At the very least, it causes horrible abdominal problems and an off kilter immune system, as the body uses all it resistance to fight off the gluten. A school nurse would be able to train staff on how to handle this disease, as well as help in the case of accidental exposure. Last year, my kindergartener’s teacher accidently gave my daughter a regular graham cracker while telling her it was gluten free, instead of her gluten free one. The teacher realized after she had eaten half of it and yelled for her to stop eating. She was whisked to the office in a flurry, where the office staff panicked, which I understand because a child’s safety was at stake and they are not trained medical professionals. However, my daughter grew very upset sensing an immediate danger. When I arrived, I was able to calm everyone down and reassure them while this is not at all good, there is no immediate danger nor is there anything that can be done after the fact, to prevent her feeling ill. A school nurse would have known this and kept calm. This whole experience has caused unnecessary anxiety for my daughter as well taken some of the faith I have in the school’s ability to keep my kids safe away. In another instance, my other daughter had a child put his goldfish crackers in her face. She was sent to the office, where the office staff told her to wash her hands. When gluten is put in your face, washing hands will not help. My daughter knew washing her hands was not going to help. A school nurse would have been able to reassure her that as long as it was not ingested, she would be ok. A school nurse would also be able to educate the kids in their classes on how to keep my kids safe…..for example, no shoving their food in her face. Not only would a school nurse help keep my children safe, but it would ease my mind. ~ Michigan Mother
Story from a mother with a diabetic son
My son would benefit every day if there was a nurse at his school. He is a diabetic and right now no one at the school truly is prepared to react if there is an emergency. The State of Michigan is not able to go into his school for proper training because there isn’t a nurse. This seems absurd to me since no nurse means they need the training even more. We need school nurses, plural, in every school for the safety of our children. ~ Michigan Mother