Accidental Overdose Raises Awareness of Need for School Nurses

Accidental Overdose Raises Awareness of Need for School Nurses

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Samantha Hayes ReportingA Tooele girl overdosed on her asthma medication at school, partly, it's felt, because there was no nurse to help her. That had never been a problem until she and her family moved to Utah. That's because Texas schools are at the level of staffing called for by a National Nurses group

It recommends one school nurse for every 750 students. Utah has the lowest nurse to student ratio in the country: one school nurse for every 5,834 students. Are your children safe if something goes wrong at school?

Paula Tuck certainly does not believe her daughter was safe; she thinks all Utah students are at risk without more full time school nurses, and you'll be hearing more about this when the session starts.

Michaela Tuck is a big girl. She can do many things on her own, but like most 10-year olds, sometimes she needs a little help.

Michaela Tuck: “I’ve never had an asthma attack this severe.’

The asthma attack happened at school. She panicked and took too many doses from her inhaler.

Paula Tuck, Mother: “She accidentally overdosed. She doubled her heart rate, started having some seizures.”

Paula Tuck says her daughter needed help from a nurse that day and did not get it.

Paula Tuck: “Michaela felt really bad and I kept telling her this is not her fault. She is just a little 10-year old and she should never be put in a situation where she should have to medicate herself.”

3200 names later and she has the attention of state lawmakers.

Paula Tuck: “We are going to get school nurses. It’s just a matter of how long we need to fight it, but we will get school nurses.”

The fight, as usual when it comes to education, is over money. It's expected to cost 36-million dollars for a full time nurse in every school.

Patrick Ogden, Associate Superintendent: “Right now we are facing enrollment growth of maybe 15-thousand new students in the coming year. That is going to cost anywhere from 45-50 million new dollars right there."

Paula Tuck: “Personally I’m willing to give up a few McDonalds to get a school nurse in my school.”

But if nursing is a necessity, the state points out a few other necessities this year, like high fuel costs for buses and heating costs for classrooms.

Patrick Ogden: “If we maintain our current level of educational services, those types of things have to be funded before we get down to school nurses.”

But one thing is for sure, before Paula Tuck started a petition this issue was not really being talked about. Senator Ed Mayne, who is sponsoring the bill, says Tuck has given this a sense of immediacy.

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