We have amazing news to share for the safety of our allergic children in schools. Mecklenburg County has just approved 33 more nurses which puts the ratio of 1 nurse per 900 children!!!! This would not have happened without the determination, drive, and... innumerable hours of tireless work from Teri Saurer. She will be the first to say she couldn’t have done it without her incredible team, Carrie Merner and Marguerite Fourqurean, Laurie Briggs, Laura Sharpe, Elyse Dashew, and many other PAK members who came to meetings and sent letters. We asked Teri to sum up how and why she spearheaded this effort for our community…
“2 years ago I was getting ready to send my daughter with food allergies and a prior history of epilepsy to kindergarten and I could not fathom having her go without a school nurse there every day. It just did not seem to be safe to me so I wanted to look into and do something about it! I found our nurses are paid by the county Health Department, not the school district which was surprising. I went to speak at a public hearing about the need for nurses and kids who died in the US when there was no nurse. I was there myself with my husband and no one had talked about nurses in years. I got a standing ovation but no nurses. I vowed to come back the following year and speak and better understand the process, have supporters and get some nurses. That was May 2012. Fall of 2012-I decided to have a meeting at my clubhouse and we combined food allergies in the school along with school nurse advocacy. I really just wanted people who wanted to help but once I convinced the media to come, I needed people and since it was at my neighborhood clubhouse I begged my neighbors to come and it got lots of press. I found some other parents who were willing to help, give me political advice and pitch in. The rest of the story is how not just me, but a small handful of passionate parents made a difference by organizing people to write to elected officials etc. Here is what our small group accomplished:
• Met with other commissioners
• Starting sending emails and letters to elected officials
• Met with the county Manager’s office along the way and they decided to start a school health task team that we were on with the Health Dept and CMS
• Went to PAK events, Epilepsy Foundation and set up info booths
• Got the Mecklenburg County Medical Society involved and writing letters supporting school nurses
• Went back to the public hearing in May 2013 –this time we had about 40 supporters in red with signs. Made front page of Observer. Had speakers and got 11 more nurses and 2 Sups in the proposed budget. We thought we had them but money was taken away in the straw vote and we got those positions but had to wait ain until the year was half over.
• Went back to work recruiting parents, going to PTA meeting, meeting commissioners, sending letters
• Got a new County Manager and a new Health Dept Director both who were extremely supportive
• COUNTY MANAGER SAID SHE GOT OVER 300 EMAILS ABOUT SCHOOL NURSES AND THAT WAS ISSUE THAT SHE HEARD ABOUT MOST!
• Worked on the CMS School Advisory Council
• June 2014-33 more nurses in budget – 1 for every school
• All along the way-kept getting media, found parents with healthy kids that had issues that needed a nurse to help with media
• Presented at children’s health summit last year and going back again
• Will present to NC School nurse assoc.
For those of you that do not know what has been happening in our local schools as far as nurses, here is a synopsis of the progress over the years…This is important not just to CMS families, but to our families in surrounding counties, as there is more work to be done there.
CMS school nurse funding comes from the county. In 2006-2008 went from about 48 nurses to 117 when the Jr League was involved. They had a big campaign and commissioners agreed to increase nurses by about 25 each year until we met the CDC guidelines of 1 nurse per 750 students. Then the economy had a downturn in 2009 the increase of nurses stopped. CMS population continues to increase between 2009 and 2012, but not one more nurse was added. The Health Dept. had not requested it either until N.C. Parents Advocating School Health came along.
So in 2012 we had 143,000 students approx. and 117 nurses for about 159 schools. While most high schools and some middle schools had a nurse every day, elementary schools shared them and most nurses in those schools were split between 2 schools. They were at your school 2-3 days per week with the secretaries giving meds, providing insulin etc while the nurse was not there. That also meant first responders (teachers, secretaries and other staff with brief first aid training) would tend to kids in emergencies. Many instances of unrecognized concussions/broken bones, medication errors. 2 of our speakers spoke about issues happening to healthy children who could have used a nurse (one had a first time allergic reaction in school and thankfully there WAS a nurse. Another had an undiagnosed CONCUSSION with NO nurse). Point being even healthy children need a nurse.
Again CDC ratio 1 nurse per 750 children
2012-1 nurse per about 1200
2013-with our work we got 11 more nurses but not until second half of year for 1 nurse in about 1125 students
2014-33 more nurses for 1 in every school or a ratio of 1 in 900!!!
Our wonderful Health Dep.t Director, Dr. Pleascia want to continue the fight and get 1 nurse per 750. Even though high schools have a full time nurse most have between 2 and 3000 kids so one is not enough.
Now we have to get these 33 nurses hired!!! They will not be in the place the start of the fall. They will come on as they get hired but by the middle to end of next school year we will have a nurse in every school. Several things went into this success…
1. Parent advocacy-without this is would not have happened. No one had planned to ask for the money so we convinced that to happen
2. New Health Dept. Director who said he saw we laid the groundwork so he could state the case for 1 nurse per school
3. New County Manager willing to listen to the over 300 emails she said she received prior to March and many more since.
4. County had a surplus so there were more funds than usual.
5. Finding a supportive county commissioner (Kim Ratliff) willing to help stand up for school nurse funding.
Parent advocacy can make a difference!!!!”
Contact Teri firstname.lastname@example.org Blog http://ncpash.weebly.com/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ncpash
Posted on Fri, June 13, 2014
by pakcharlotte filed under