NYS Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples affirmed her support for school nurses today in a press conference calling for funding for a nurse in every school. Assemblymember Peoples was joined by P.U.S.H. (Parents Unite for School-Safety and Health).
Ms. Peoples stated, "We’re here at Futures Academy because the Kaleida Health School Based Clinic is here. We want to show our support of nursing professionals and their importance in public school buildings."
Historically, the Erie County Health Department provided school health services to about 70 public and parochial schools in the City of Buffalo. Due to the County’s current fiscal crisis, funding for the School Health Program was completely cut from their budget.
Ms. Peoples stated, "Effective March 15, 2005, over 38,000 students have no full-time nurse in their school. That means no one to administer medication, conduct health screenings, do assessments, give first aid or handle medical emergencies. School Health Nurses should not be viewed as a luxury. They are a necessity and without them our children are at risk."
Last year school health professionals conducted 34,457 health screenings. The screenings identified 2,648 potential problems and resulted in that many referrals for follow-up care. They saw 37,962 children for triage and first aid. I.D.E.A. (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) has resulted in more children with special health needs being mainstreamed into regular school settings. The school nurse is an important resource for staff and parents in ensuring that our children’s in-school health needs are met and that they get the maximum benefit from their learning experience.
Ms. Peoples concluded, "The students here at Futures Academy have what every child in a Buffalo public school should have – in-school access to medical care. The crisis plan put together by the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Public School District where each put up $55,000, is a band-aid on a problem that really needs surgery. It was a valiant effort, but it only covers 11 nurses in 11 schools for about 5 hours per day. They will spend 3 hours based in one school and 2 hours daily traveling to other schools. I am calling on my colleagues in the Assembly, the Senate, Governor Pataki, Mayor Masiello, the Common Council, and the Buffalo Public School District to make the health and welfare of children in Buffalo public schools a priority. We’ve got to either find the money or find a solution to rectify this problem. Our children, teachers and administrators deserve it."