School nurses spoke Wednesday to the Manhattan-Ogden School Board about the need for additional staffing.
Nurse Mindi Sturm, who works at Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt elementary schools, asked the board to consider hiring four more nurses. Currently, there are 10 nurses serving the 12 USD 383 buildings, as well as one nurse serving Manhattan Catholic School and the Flint Hills Christian School. Only Amanda Arnold, Bergman, Lee and Northview elementary schools and Manhattan High School have their own nurse. The nurses at the other schools all serve at least two schools.
Sturm said the district needs another nurse at the middle school level and another at the high school level. Angie Good serves three days a week at Anthony and two days a week at Eisenhower, covering 912 students. Robin Mall is the full-time nurse at Manhattan High School, covering all 1,774 students with the help of one part-time nurse, Gayle Connet. Sturm said Good needs another nurse especially since the district will move all the sixth-graders to the middle schools.
Sturm and Mall talked to the board about the difficulties in nursing at the schools. They said they’ve had to invest in a safe for the buildings for special medicines, and there was an increase of 1,000 students who take medications at school in the past year. They didn’t indicate any particular reason why the numbers increased.
Last year, 1,546 students took a medicine at school, but at the end of this year, 2,542 took a medicine. Some medicines, Mall said, can only be administered by her. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls for a minimum of one full-time registered nurse in every school, as well as a one nurse per every 225 students. In USD 383, there is one nurse for every 676 students.
“I have a student with a medicine that can only be administered by an RN,” she said. “Not the student’s parents or the health aide in the building. Some of these are getting serious.”
The part-time health aides in the school work under the full-time nurse’s license. Sturm said sometimes she hates to think about that.
“It makes me a little nervous, about my little Woodrow Wilson and TR kids,” she said.
They said a large part of their job is behind the scenes, helping parents without full coverage or any insurance. The nurses at the schools can only assess situations, give medicines and basic medical care like cleaning and bandaging cuts. Sturm said if a student breaks an arm at school, they assess it, then call parents or in more serious instances, an ambulance.
Sturm said she helped between 15 and 20 families sign up for Medicaid this year, which takes a lot of time.
“A lot of it is just encouragement to follow through,” she said. “You ask, ‘How can I help?’”
The board voted 6-0 to partner with Pawnee Mental Health Services.
In joining, the district agreed to work with Pawnee on prevention and intervention plans for students and staff experiencing mental health difficulties and emergencies, as well as revising any current district policies that would fit the new plans.