DENVER (CBS4)– In the midst of a push to hire nurses in every school across the country, many schools in Denver can afford to bring in school nurses only one day per week. According to the National Association of School Nurses, the nurse shortage could be putting students’ health at risk.
A study by the National Education Association showed Colorado among fifteen states with the lowest school nursing staff.READ MORE: Mountain Lions Thwart Planned Relocation Of Bighorn Sheep
Most schools in Denver Public Schools cannot afford to hire nurses full-time, a spokesperson said Thursday.
Rebecca Sposato, R.N., works at Downtown Denver Expeditionary School (DDES) one day a week tending to kids who become sick or injured as well as children with chronic illness like asthma and diabetes.
Within DPS, 207 schools share 100 staff nurses each week. That means Sposato and colleagues handle multiple campuses. Some of them work at a different school every day of the week.
“And that’s unfortunate but (schools) have to look at their budgets to see how many days a week of school nursing that they can actually afford,” said Kathrine Hale, Denver Public Schools’ Manager of Nursing and Student Health Services.READ MORE: Kaiser Permanente Sets Out To Add Thousands More To Vaccinated List
DPS is not alone in the challenge. A national study shows that Colorado has one school nurse for every 2,100 students.
When a campus is without its nurse, other staff members without medical training, including teachers and administrative staff, step in to handle tasks like taking temperatures and administering medication.
“It’s always better if there can be a school nurse present,” Hale said.
The staff members who take over the tasks, however, receive instruction from nurses on how to keep kids safe when they are away.
“They go through a specific training process and then oversight throughout the school year to make sure kids are safe,” she said.MORE NEWS: Explosion & Fire At Elkins Distilling In Estes Park Hospitalizes 2 People
In May, lawmakers in Washington will reintroduce a bill called the Nurse Act. It would provide grants for schools to hire nurses.