Campus nurse position remains in limbo
Off-site medical help encouraged
Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 05:10
Victimized by budget cuts in the mid-1980s, the absence of school nurses on campus has left the college with no one to treat the wounds of the student body as it at one time did.
Once providing services such as birth control counseling, extensive referral to off-campus help and proper wound dressing, the school nurse was lost along with several dollars in the college budget, nursing professor Cheri Etheredge said.
"When the budget is tight, school nurses get cut," she said.
While there are services to transfer students to a hospital in an emergency, a school nurse remains void on the list of elements for safety preparedness.
Students in need of immediate medical attention are encouraged to contact Police Services and Emergency Medical Services on campus to transfer them to a hospital, President McKinley Williams said.
Consequently, most health services are to be found at a location off campus.
"Any emergency could happen, and (there would be) no one here to do anything about it," student Aneka Boykin said.
With the amount of money for personnel, facilities, contracts and other resources required to house a school nurse, the college is miles away from embracing the additional strains on the budget, Williams said.
"It was discussed, but didn't come to fruition," Williams said. "The reserves can't provide all the services (students) personally need."
Many students feel an aversion to the idea of the college not being equipped with an available school nurse.
"It's kind of scary, and I just assumed we had a nurse, (because) there are a lot of potential nurses (on campus)," student Julio Guzman said.
As the college lacks school nurses, students agreed the campus lacks a certain amount of safety preparedness.
"It's good to be prepared (by having) someone who knows what they're doing," Guzman said. "(It would) give us a sense of some security."
Nursing department Chairwoman Angela King-Jones said, for more critical situations requiring health services without delay, the best option is to dial 911.
"They have the necessary equipment needed to treat an emergency situation," she said.
While the college lacks a school nurse, it does have nurses on campus.
King-Jones, alongside the faculty in the nursing department, is a registered nurse.
Not to be confused as school nurses, King-Jones said faculty members are given a different "scope of focus."
"We're hired to teach, not to (provide) care for the student body," she said. "There's a big difference, and it'd be great to have that facility on campus. But it's a huge undertaking."
Yet, the campus is not deprived of students with the capability of performing certain basic health services.
Students from the nursing department retain various skills that can provide some assistance during a dire situation should the need arise, she said.
"With guidance, a nursing student can be a (big) help to the community in case of an emergency or disaster," King-Jones said.
Equipped with the abilities to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and check vital signs such as heartbeat, pulse, blood pressure, temperature and respirations, nursing students can provide some form of help should the situation demand it.
"(These skills) help every situation, but does it take the place of a (school) nurse? No, it doesn't," King-Jones said.
Though there is a nursing program on campus, there cannot be a dependency on the department for disasters, she said.
"If there were injuries on campus, do not depend on the nursing program to help with the injuries," King-Jones said. "The first one to call would be 911."
One of the features the district has implemented to contribute to safety preparedness on campus is the installation of two automatic external defibrillators (AED) in the Health Sciences and Gym Annex buildings, she said.
If someone witnesses another going into heart dysrhythmia, using an AED on the patient would stabilize the heart to a normal beat, King-Jones said.
"(The installation) was a big step for the district to recognize this is something that could save a life," she said.
Despite the number of alternatives for medical assistance, the establishment of a school nurse remains far from becoming a reality at the college.
"We can't see any nurses (on campus) in the future, not in this budget climate," Williams said.
Unless money is taken away from another service or the students tax themselves, the funds to support the existence of a school nurse are not a part of any plan, he said.
Contact Asia Camagong at email@example.com