Health district to fund RN for Trimble schools

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

The Trimble County School District could have an additional full-time registered nurse on staff in 2009-10, fully funded by the North Central District Health Department.

Judge-Executive Randy Stevens told Trimble County magistrates last week that the health district voted earlier this month to spend $53,000 to fund the position in the district.

“The nurse will be under school district supervision and used at their discretion, but the position will be paid for by the health department,” Stevens said June 15.

The school district has one full-time registered nurse and a part-time licensed practical nurse. “To offer another registered nurse at no cost to the school system is something we are really excited to do,” Stevens said.

Renee Blair, public health director for the health district, based in Shelbyville, said she has not yet met with Superintendent Marcia Dunaway or the Trimble County Board of Education to discuss the offer.

Dunaway could not be reached Tuesday for comment, but confirmed in a voice message that neither she nor the board have been approached about the offer.

Blair said she hopes the school district will accept the offer, which is meant to enhance the health services the schools already provide.

“We want them to have the freedom of where they need [the additional] nurse to be,” Blair said.

Blair said she believes school nurses are crucial to education. “It’s been proven that school nurses improve the health of the children, improve attendance, improve morale and help make the teachers feel more comfortable,” she said. “I know from my own experience in public schools that it works.”

She said today, more and more children have chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes. School nurses can help these children with medications or learn to use inhalers, check blood-sugar levels or even take insulin injections.

And sometimes, “kids just need reassurance” when they come to school and don’t feel well.

Blair said the health district will keep tabs on the program to gain data to determine if or how an additional nurse is making a difference in the district.

While the program will be taken year to year, she said she hopes it’s something the health district “can continue from here on out.