Cincinnati school nurses brace for layoffs - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Cincinnati school nurses brace for layoffs

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati public elementary school nurses are bracing for potential layoffs in the new year. Your child may be doing without in the new year, if the cuts go through.

There are 40 nurses, one at each of the 40 Cincinnati elementary schools.

For many low-income families, the school nurse is their child's only immediate link to a health care professional.

"Stick your tongue way out and say aaahhh," said school nurse Stacey Wills to her young patient. She is the medical professional at Hays-Porter Elementary in the West End.

Wills sees at least a dozen patients a day.

"Ok, take a deep breath for me, good job," she said to the little girl, checking her lungs for any congestion. Wills has 430 students in her care, many who get exposed to a litany of diseases.

"This here is my chronic illness binder," she said, holding up a super-thick 3-ring binder loaded with files. "It has all the health plans of all the students here at the school that have chronic illnesses."

Wills says that big red book will double in size by the end of the school year, with additional doctor's orders, prescriptions and treatment instructions for students.

"We do vision, dental and hearing," Wills said.

Families rely on her first thing every morning.

At the Hays-Porter School, the nurse is a great example of how invaluable their care is. For the kids and their parents, this is their only access point to real medical care.

"They're the ones who're really going to suffer if there's not a nurse here at school to help them and they need nurses every day," Wills said.

Nurses are needed to dispense medications and give diabetes shots among their daily duties.

"My son has a fish allergy," said Ciara Harper. "So she would know what to do, if there was ever a reaction."

Harper's son gave her a scare at school last week.

"I would have called 911 is what I would have done," she said. "But I'm glad that she (Wills) was here."

A second allergy in her son had surfaced.

"He had some peanuts and we didn't realize he may have a peanut allergy and because she (Wills) was here and it was after school hours. I think it's a must for every school," Harper said gratefully.

"Nurses are extremely valuable in schools," said CPS Spokesperson Janet Walsh.

The city said it just can't afford to keep paying the nurses.

"And they've asked Cincinnati Public Schools to pick-up half of the cost of the City's nurses," Walsh said.

Walsh went on to say CPS has already gotten warnings from Columbus, that for all District's across the state, funding in 2012 will be cut 15 to 20-percent. So, that could spell layoffs.

"Nurses could possibly be split between schools," Wills said.

"That they will have to double-up and serve several schools instead of one," Walsh said may be one option.

Right now, there is no funding in next year's budget for those 40 school nurses.

Everyone is waiting anxiously, to see who stays and who goes, once City Council approves the new budget. 

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