FUSD Under-allocates Nurses

Achintya Pinninti & Sanjana Gudivada, Sports Editor & Staff Writer

Due to educational budget cuts, there is a shortage of nurses in the Fremont Unified School District. Knowing that there is not a school nurse on campus at all times, Irvington, like all other sites needs to follow district protocols to ensure that the students are cared for in a timely matter.

The district has one nurse assigned to about two or three schools. Although Irvington’s nurse Ruth Cheung works full time for the district, she is at Irvington only part of the time. Her schedule varies weekly and sometimes daily depending on her needs at the different sites where she works.

“According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), it is recommended to have one [registered nurse] for every 750 students but most [school] nurses have more than 2,500 students, and at the same time, with increasingly complex health needs,” said Nurse Cheung.

Because the nurse cannot be on campus every day of the week, there’s a district protocol that Irvington follows when a student is injured in PE or when they have a certain medical incident.

“We don’t necessarily rely on [the nurse] being here to take care of injuries,” said Principal Amanda Melsby. “We also have staff on campus who are CPR certified or certified for some type of injections and to give certain types of injections.”

When the nurse is unavailable, the office staff, namely, the attendance clerks work with students who come in for basic first aid. The well-functioning ice machine aids them to help with those who come in for common PE injuries. The school staff is also trained annually on administering emergency medications for seizures, diabetes and food allergies. Students with medical conditions are given special attention.

“If a student needs to take medication at school, parents need to obtain the correct medication forms and have the doctor complete them,” said Nurse Cheung. “The medication and forms are then brought in to the office so they can be stored in a locked area. If the medication is given on ‘as-needed basis’ then the student comes for it when they need it. If he/she is a younger student, I also work with their teacher to come up with a reminder plan so the student gets his/her doses as ordered. ”

To make sure that they don’t have any problems while at school, the school nurse prepares a health plan for these students. The health plan has specific directions on what to do for certain situations. Nurse Cheung also builds her schedule around when she has to see certain students to check in with them and makes sure that certain staff members are trained. When a student is hurt or injured, there is a protocol that is followed in order to make sure the student is safe.

“We coordinate with the attendance clerk, get the parents on the phone and start getting the emergency card photocopied, those kinds of things,” said Principal Melsby. “So we are responding directly to the students and the attendance clerks are helping with that information gathering and correlating with parents. If a student has a health plan, we follow the directions on the health plan.”

The main reason why there is only one nurse working part time at Irvington is because of educational budget cuts from the district. The lack of nurses in the district itself is due to this which is why one nurse works at multiple schools.