2017-06-09 / Community

SPSD School Nursing Services

Dianne Paton, Assistant Director Instructional Support

Each year, the South Portland School District team of 7 highly skilled professional nurses have many responsibilities targeted to supporting the well being and academic success of students. Our school nurses relieve other staff, especially classroom teachers, of the responsibilities associated with responding to the health needs of hundreds of students who come to school each day with asthma, diabetes, life threatening food allergies, seizure disorders and other conditions. From immunization management and daily medication delivery to health teaching, health related screening, first aid and emergency response to life threatening conditions, school nurses ensure that each student’s needs are identified, assessed and addressed. Data shows that a school nurse’s presence in a school can significantly reduce absenteeism in the form of early dismissals and days missed. Being healthy and present at school is certainly the first step to being an engaged and successful student. District nurses work with a variety of community partners to provide services such as flu clinics (VNA Home Health), vision care (Lions Club) and nursing student mentoring (USM). They work with families to ensure health, well being and safety when health needs requiring additional monitoring and supervision while at school are present. As

an important part of a school team, school nurses collaborate with guidance counselors, social workers, teachers and principals to assess and address barriers to learning so that every child can experience the full measure of their physical , emotional and social health. Each year, a number of schools in the district participate (along with about 96,000 other students state wide!) in the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. School nurses have a role in the data collection process for this survey, whether it is conducting oral health exams or measuring heights and weights of students in designated grades. This survey, a collaboration between Maine CDC, Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and Maine Department of Education, gathers anonymous information about students’ and parents’ knowledge of health and related issues, as well as oral health and height and weight data of target groups, thus allowing more thoughtful and strategic development of statewide efforts and funding to address youth and health. Clearly, school nurses are busy and active in the lives of students on many levels. They stand ready to participate in all efforts wherein the experience and expertise of the team is tapped to the benefit of children and those who serve them in the school setting.

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