(CBS News) — Only three out of five schools across the country have full-time school nurses often forcing school administrators, with no medical training, to step in and provide some level of care.
The role of the school nurse is more critical than ever, with a quarter of all young children suffering some kind of chronic illness, like asthma and diabetes. Over the past several years, multiple children have died after facing medical emergencies in their schools when no nurse was on duty, reports Hilary Lane.
Donna Mazyck, the executive director of the National Association of School Nurses in Silver Spring, Maryland, called the issue a “crisis.” She said 40 percent of schools across the country do not have a full time nurse and 25 percent don’t have a nurse at all.
“Students deserve what they need to be in school and ready to learn,” Mazyck said.
Mazyck blames shrinking budgets for the shortfall, which she said increases the burden on existing nurses and puts kids at risk.
“If you have a workload that doesn’t enable you to care for the students in a way that you need, it’s like drinking water from a fire hose,” Mazyck said.
Denie Gorbey-Creese is a school nurse in Howard County, Maryland who covers two schools a day.
“I’m often stressed because I have to figure out the safest way to balance it,” Gorbey-Creese said.
She has health assistants at each school who call her with questions when she is not in the building.
“If I’m busy with an emergency at my other school, I’m not available right away, so it might delay their care some,” she said.
“As a school nurse, do you feel like you are stretched too thin?” Lane asked.
“I think so,” Gorbey-Creese said. “I would love to be able to be in one place, so that I could provide the care that kids need. I also think I would get to know the kids a lot better.”