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New Study: Cutting School Nurses Doesn't Save Money

Updated: Tuesday, June 3 2014, 05:27 PM CDT
NATIONWIDE -- School nurses were once commonplace across the country, but a new study says more and more are being cut to help school districts save a few extra dollars.

Each district handles their nursing program differently. Some nurses handle multiple schools, while other districts have one for each.

No matter the situation, school nurses we spoke with can't imagine a district cutting all nurses.

"There is only one school in the district that has a full-time nurse and that is a school that has a lot of children with special needs," said Health Services Coordinator for District 186, Valerie Rogers.

That means at District 186, one nurse handles multiple buildings.

"There are needs that could be met better if we have a nurse at every school," said Rogers.

Rogers knows things could be worse. A new study published by the Journal of American Medicine Association Pediatrics says more schools are cutting all nurses.

It's supposed to save money, but the study says every dollar spent on school nurses saves $2.20 in medical costs.

"I know a lot of school districts don't see the value as much, but here we hear from principals that want more nursing coverage," said Rogers.

The situation is different at Ball-Chatham, where a nurse is at every school. Middle School Nurse Beverly Rios says anything less could waste other medical services.

"The teachers and staff and students would not be going to the emergency room or going to see the doctor prematurely that we can take care of there in the building," said Rios.

Rios says school nurses give out more than band-aids. They attend to children with special needs such as asthma and those who need medication. Without a nurse, that job would be left up to others.

"The staff would be very uncomfortable with that, having to make medical decisions and handing out medications that they are unsure what they are giving or doing," said Rios.

At District 186 when children become ill or hurt when a nurse is out of the building, office staff often take over.

Rogers says it's a system they have been using for years and is successful.

School nurses say in some cases their care is the only doctor some children ever see because some families can't afford medical care.New Study: Cutting School Nurses Doesn't Save Money

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