ShareThis Page
News

School nurses more on guard as allergies, concussions rise

| Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, 7:27 p.m.
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict takes a phone call in her office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict takes a phone call in her office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict sits for a photo inside the office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict sits for a photo inside the office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict stands for a photo inside the office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict stands for a photo inside the office Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.

Quaker Valley High School nurse Aimee Benedict remembers two years ago, when an allergic reaction nearly turned deadly.

The student's lips were swollen as she struggled for breath and didn't know why. But Benedict recognized the symptoms and reached for an epinephrine shot.

“Because we had standing orders for EpiPens here, it literally has saved lives,” Benedict said.

The number of students with special health care needs has “increased dramatically” over the past decade, as students are diagnosed with increasingly complex medical problems and need intricate medical equipment and “complicated treatments,” according to the National Association of School Nurses.

Veteran nurses in local school districts have adapted and saved lives in the process.

Moon Area Middle School nurse Beth Rose said she has seen firsthand an increase of students with allergies since she was hired 17 years ago.

“There's allergies to everything now,” Rose said. “When I worked in a hospital, I never saw a peanut allergy.”

Benedict said she used an epinephrine shot on a student for the first time two years ago and has used five more since.

The number of reported concussions in local schools also has increased, as a result of 2012 state legislation that requires assessments by either a licensed physician or neuropsychologist.

Quaker Valley School District officials 75 concussions the first year laws were enacted, Benedict said.

When a student is diagnosed with a concussion, school nurses act as a conduit between doctors and teachers during the recovery process. Doctors' orders often call for a reduced workload as the student is monitored for two weeks, or sometimes two years.

An open line of communication must be kept with parents, whether it's for sports-related injuries or daily medications, Pine-Richland High School nurse Sue Leonberg said.

And while 15 years ago, conversations primarily took place in person or by telephone, emails have since become just as prevalent.

“You have to make sure to answer emails in a timely manner and appropriately,” Leonberg said.

Rose said she was surprised by the many roles of the job when she transitioned from hospital nurse to school nurse.

“I thought I'd leave the hospital to apply Band-Aids,” Rose said. “ It didn't turn out that way.”

Kyle Lawson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me