Keeping Pulse: School Nurses at Heart of Student Body

February 2, 2015

The school nurse at the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy said she has to be prepared for anything on any given day.

“I come in here fully aware that I am medically responsible for anybody in the building, whether that be the pregnant teacher down the hallway or the teacher with high blood pressure or any of the students and their issues,” said Kelly Krivsky. “So I have to come in here prepared to handle any situation.”

Krivsky said helping children who otherwise might not get help is one of the main reasons why she does it.

“First and foremost, sometimes I’m the only medical personnel that some of these kids will see, unfortunately, and that’s what drives me,” Krivsky said.

She said in the past there have been students who might come into her office every day for a Band-Aid and the one she’s replacing is the same one she gave them the day before.

Lisa Crossman, deputy director of Cobb & Douglas Public Health, said addressing the medical needs of children who do not have medical insurance is the primary challenge for school nurses.

“Because of the limited resources in these families, the school nurses must have a large network of providers to help these children,” Crossman said.

A registered nurse since 1998, Krivsky is in her fourth year at the Sixth Grade Academy, where she is responsible for about 700 students. 

“I only have them for one year, but they’re a great age group and I can still mama them a bit when they’re sick. But I can be real honest with them and straightforward with them,” she said. “I treat them just like my own.”

She has had two children go through the school since she has been working there and her third is a fifth grader who will attend next year. 

Crossman said another issue school nurses are dealing with is the growing number of children with chronic medical conditions.

“This year, I have many kids with daily medications at lunch,” Krivsky said. “I have two students with diabetes.”

Elin Mazloom, the school health manager for Marietta City Schools, recently gave a school nurse report to the Marietta school board and said about 10 percent of U.S. children have asthma and it causes about 13 million missed school days each year.

Marietta City Schools has 11 school nurses, one at each school. There are also three hourly nurses that fill in when needed.

Crossman said Cobb & Douglas Public Health provides the nursing and clinical management and coordinates with the district’s central office and school principals.

Marietta schools contracts Cobb & Douglas Public Health every year to provide the program at a cost of about $450,000. About 40 percent of the contractual cost for the services are paid for by the state government, she said, adding Gov. Nathan Deal’s recommended fiscal 2016 budget proposes an increase in that funding.

Crossman said the nurses generally work about 30 hours per week and their compensation is consistent with Cobb & Douglas Public Health’s salary and benefit structure for nurses, which averages to about $20 per hour. 

Every school nurse in the Marietta system is licensed by the state and the Board of Nursing. Crossman said Cobb & Douglas Public Health or its local medical partners also provide additional professional education each year in special areas such as diabetes or injury prevention.

Mazloom noted in her report for the 2013-14 school year, school nurses in Marietta City Schools saw 41,586 individual clinic visits for services such as first aid, medication distribution, health education, assessments and screenings. That equals out to about 3,780 services per nurse or about 315 per school each month. The number of individual treatments is up by about 3,000 over the previous year.

In Cobb schools, there are 117 school nurses for regular education students and 26 special education nurses, according to Jennifer Gates, district spokeswoman. This equals out to at least one school nurse per school.

Cobb nurses are paid $21.56 per hour and the district’s budget for nurse services is about $4 million a year.

Gates said the nurse program is managed by a nursing supervisor and five consulting nurses in addition to a special education supervisor who oversees the special education nurses.

This story is provided courtesy of the Marietta Daily Journal. 

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