Assessing the needs of NEPA school nurses

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s no secret the pandemic has added obstacles to so many jobs. One of those occupations is that of school nurses who are stretched thin by many demands.

The role of the school nurse includes dealing with much more than student stomachaches or playground scrapes.

A local study sheds light on obstacles that prevent school nurses from being as effective as possible to care for students.

COVID rapid testing is just one of the tasks carried out by Heights Murray Elementary School Nurse Tracey Glynn-Roulinavage, RN, BSN, CSN.

There’s also dealing with student seasonal illness not to mention administering their prescribed medication, overseeing their blood glucose tests and making sure students with hearing or vision loss have what they need to succeed. To say her job is demanding is an understatement.

“We have a lot of documentation to do and we have medical charts to keep up to date, give medications daily to a lot of the kids that have some medical needs, and take care of the illnesses as well on a daily basis,” Glynn-Roulinavage said.

Recently, Moses Taylor Foundation conducted its first ever Northeastern Pennsylvania School Nurse Needs Assessment.

Nurse Tracey, as she’s known by her school’s more than 800 students, was one of the nurses contacted for the 11-county study. One job barrier identified is outdated school health mandates.

“The legal law limit ratio is one nurse to 1,500 kids which is outlandish and not humanly possible but that law has also not been changed since 1952,” Glynn-Roulinavage said.

Another big takeaway from the Moses Taylor Foundation study? Nurse Tracey says there just aren’t enough school substitute nurses to go around.

The report recommends exploring alternative funding sources for school nurses, supporting their professional development opportunities, and improving connections and understanding of the modern day school nurse.

“It’s a lot but we do it because we care about the kids and we want to make sure they have their best health while they’re in school because without health, you have no learning,” Glynn-Roulinavage said.

While student health is the ultimate goal, the report finds there’s a payoff for society, too. It claims for every dollar invested in school health nursing, society would gain $2.20.

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