Wednesday, January 21, 2009

School Nurses proposed to be cut due to tough economic times.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has the tough job of proposing a state budget in these rough economic times and the Joint Appropriations Committee will be meeting today to go over the Governors proposal which includes the elimination of school nurses.

With close to 1,000 kids in the new 4th and 5th grade elementary school; one of the biggest complaints I heard from the community on the construction of the school wasn't the red roof but rather the size and configuration of the health clinic. In the final design, I believe several walls were moved and doors reconfigured in order to make the clinic hospitable and private for the little patients who would be visiting that room of the school, some on a regular basis.

Below is a letter I wanted to bring to your attention from my good friend Jay Spearman whose wife Paige serves our community children as the school nurse at Vanderlyn Elementary.

This is one cost savings measure that I believe will cut very deep, in many unintended ways.

Dear Parents and Friends:

As the parent of three school aged children, and the husband of the school nurse at Vanderlyn Elementary, I need to ask for your urgent help.

As you may have heard, Governor Perdue has proposed to eliminate all state funding for professional school nurses in Georgia. In a nutshell, what this means is that RN’s will no longer be there when your child is hurt or sick, assist in training staff and teachers, work daily with students suffering from diabetes, asthma, allergies, seizures, cancer, infectious illnesses and special needs, manage immunization records, perform vision and hearing screenings, conduct CPR classes, coordinate safety plans, perform emergency triage and much more.

Why are school nurses important? The facts speak for themselves:
  • It is estimated that 15 million students annually visit and receive care from school based clinics for illnesses, medications and/or injuries.

  • 1.5 million school-age children do not have health insurance and their first level of care when faced with a medical issue is the school clinic.

  • Approximately 30% of Georgia students have health conditions (i.e. asthma, diabetes, cancer, life-threatening allergies and seizure disorder).

  • As many as 5 million doses of prescription medications are given annually at schools.

  • School nurses respond to medical emergencies, educate staff on school health issues and provide training on medical procedures.

  • School Nurses work in collaboration with community physicians and health organizations to ensure the health needs of students are met, which is of even greater importance due to the recently increased compliance requirements involving Georgia immunization laws.
Without School Nurses, parent volunteers would have to take shifts in the clinic. That is fine for band-aids, but as noted above, many of our children have needs, injuries and emergencies that surpass the abilities of a parent volunteer (or school secretary).

With all that being said, the most important reason to maintain school nurses is that they care about your child. School Nurses can make 3 to 4 times in the private sector what they are being paid by their school districts. However, they elect to be School Nurses because they love the kids and care about their well being.

Therefore, I employ and urge you as a Georgia citizen, physician, pediatrician, business leader, school administrator, community advocate, children’s advocate, parent, student, school staff member or just supporter of school nurses to please contact the Governor and members of the Appropriations and Health Committees and offer your strong support by voicing disapproval of these funds being eliminated from the State budget.

There is a budget meeting scheduled on this issue today (Wednesday, 1/21/09), so time is very short. The following legislators need to hear from you ASAP:

School Superintendent Kathy Cox: 404-656-2800

Governor Sonny Perdue: 404-656-1776
Lt. Governor Cagle: 404-656-5030
Rep. Ben Harbin: 404-463-2247
Rep. Dubose Porter: 404-656-5058
Rep. Cooper: 404-656-5069
Rep. Jan Jones: 404-463-2247
Rep. Mark Burkhalter: 404-656-5072
Rep. Fran Millar: 404-656-5064
Rep. Ehrhart: 404-656-5141
Rep. Glenn Richardson: 404-656-5020
Sen. Jack Hill: 404-656-5038
Sen. Don Balfour: 404-656-0095
Sen. Tommie Williams: 404-656-0089
Sen. Renee Unterman: 404-463-1368
Sen. Dan Moody: 404-463-8055
Sen. John Bulloch: 404-656-0040
Sen. Jack Murphy: 404-656-7127
Sen. Horacena Tate: 404-463-8053
Sen. Eric Johnson: 404-656-5109
Sen. Robert Brown: 404-656-5035

Please make the phones ring.

Also, please e-mail these and your representatives. E-mail addresses can be found at: Please feel free to forward this e-mail.

Thanks for your assistance.

Jay Spearman

1 comment:

Don Converse said...

Having gone through all elementary and high school with no school nurse, I can't really relate to the need, but is it possible for existing nurses, or retired nurses to fill the need on a volunteer basis?