FROM THE ASHE ADVOCATE, a newletter written by State Representative Kathy Ashe.....
House Democrats fight to keep nurses in schools
According to the Governor's FY 2009 amended budget proposal school nurses will soon become a thing of the past. The recommendations submitted by the Governor last week cut $30 million in state funds which would eliminate the school nurse program. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus opposes this cut and has pledged to work to restore the program.
Democrats believe in promoting preventive medicine and supporting nurses in schools so children can focus on learning and avoid complications that arise when health problems go untreated. They also believe every family should have access to a doctor and every school should have a nurse.
"We have a growing number of working families without health insurance and some of those parents rely on school nurses to keep their children safe and healthy while they are in school." said Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), Chairperson for Health and Human Services Policy Committee for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.
Georgia House Democratic Caucus Education Policy Chair, Rep. Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta), said, "We must fight for our children and their right to receive appropriate health care while they are in school. If children don't receive the care they need their medical issues could escalate. It's a short sighted approach that will eventually cost our state additional funds and more importantly, diminish our children's ability to do the job they go to school to accomplish - learning. I am asking our parents and teachers to express your concern about these cuts to your state representative and state senators. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance finding your elected representatives."
Removing school nurses is extremely short-sighted. Georgia House Democratic Leader, Rep. DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) added real life examples. "In Dublin, we have one nurse for four elementary schools. Numerous daily school-age related illnesses aside, our nurse manages diabetic children who must undergo daily blood sugar testing, she takes care of a child on a feeding tube, and has a student going through stage 4 cancer. The management of these health issues takes a trained professional." said Porter. "In one of the four schools alone there are 38 students on asthma inhalers, students who at times have had to be rushed to the hospital with acute asthma attacks. We should not balance the state's budget by cutting health care to sick children or making our teachers become health care providers."
Georgia House Democratic Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) agreed and pointed out legal questions that may arise, regardless of safeguards designed to protect the school. "The governor should be asking, who will administer this care... the teachers? The liability on untrained school employees administering health care could easily become an issue. Teachers in Georgia schools now are not allowed to administer medications. Nurses in our schools give out over 5 million doses per year. There are approximately fifteen million annual visits to the office or school health room for illness, medication and injury in Georgia," said Smyre. "Children can't learn when they are sick and teachers can't teach when they are running a health clinic."
In conclusion Porter noted, "We are willing to fight to stop this cut that will directly damage our schools and our children, but it will take a great effort to get the message to this Governor. Now is the time for Georgians to engage in the political process. Times are changing and Georgians can no longer assume basic services will continue. Georgians must become involved in the process."
The Georgia House Democratic Caucus has an e-mail address to handle issues that relate to the Governor's proposed cuts. To voice your concern, e- mail email@example.com. Together we can continue to protect our children's future.