- There are one and a half million school-age children in Georgia, at least 13% without healthcare insurance coverage, and approximately 30% with chronic health conditions (i.e. asthma, diabetes, cancer, life-threatening food allergies and epilepsy) affecting their ability to learn.
- As many as 5 million doses of prescription medication are given annually at school —asthma medications, psychotropic controlled substances, antibiotics, seizure medications, insulin, and emergency injections for severe allergic reactions.
- There are approximately fifteen million annual visits to the office or school health room for illness, medication and injury in Georgia.
- Some children injured at school may be inadequately assessed and treated due to lack of a medically trained professional on site.
- At least thirty percent of school age children have developed risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, which could be modified by focused health education from an on-site school nurse.
- Since the school nurse program was funded in Georgia, under HB 1187, the majority of schools in Georgia have a licensed school nurse on site during at least part of the school day.
- Healthy People 2010 includes the practice of school nurses in their strategy for addressing preventable threats to children’s health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends use of school nurses, not paraprofessionals, to deliver day to day nursing services and health counseling to children in schools.
- The accepted national consensus on the best ratio of regular education students to school nurse is 750:1, Georgia has 1680:1, in a survey of half of the districts completed last year. Georgia ranked 44 out of 50 states on the overall child “well-being” index for 2002. There is a correlation between lower ratios of students to school nurses, and a state’s higher ranking on child well-being.
- The school nurse provides the professional expertise to identify, assess, and monitor student health needs, with an emphasis on prevention of disease and injury and promotion of positive health through health services, health counseling, and health education.
- Promoting this initiative could be perhaps the single most important thing the Georgia Legislature could do to improve the health of Georgia’s children statewide.