It’s a sad fact of life that, according to the National Association of School Nurses, there are 60,000 school nurses working in America’s public schools, with the job of caring for 52 million students. I’m no mathematician, but with numbers like those, there is no way that every student in every school has access to a school nurse all day, every day.
Here in my neck of the woods, our county schools do not have full-time nurses – and we live in one of the best school districts in the state. For a child with diabetes, having a part-time school nurse is just not acceptable. Most parents of kids with diabetes have two choices: move to a different school district, or have a parent with a cell phone who comes to the classroom several times a day to give shots and check blood sugars. Some school districts won’t let non-medical personnel – meaning teachers – give shots because of the liability. So move your home or give up your day job – which will it be?
There is a third option, but it’s not cheap. Luckily, we can afford to send our child to private school, one with a full-time nurse with an advanced degree. We think our daughter would do fine in public school, but not having a nurse there all the time is a dealbreaker for us. And as more and more children are diagnosed with diabetes, and as some school districts continue to fund only part-time school nurses, middle class families who can afford it will increasingly go to private schools that have nurses. It’s one more example of what I call the “diabetes tax” – the cost to the economy of diabetes. You could say it’s the price of peace of mind, a cost that we would otherwise wouldn’t have to pay … if only there were a cure.
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Published On: March 31, 2006