(Toledo News Now) - When you send your children to school, are they protected if a medical emergency happens?
When it comes to school nurses in Ohio there is growing concern about safety where federal guidelines are pretty much ignored.
"We had a very deep wound. And we had 38 to 40 stitches that were needed," said a Northwest Ohio mother who asked to have her identity concealed for fear of retribution from her daughter's school district.
Her child's injury on the playground was eye-opening. Mom was pleased a school nurse was there to help but said the school did not recognize how serious the medical emergency was and never called 911 or an ambulance.
"That still concerns me. It concerns me every day that I send my daughter or my other children to school," said the mother.
School nurses are forced to train teachers and staff how to handle medications, medical assessments, and emergencies because there are fewer and fewer nurses in our schools these days.
In fact in the state of Ohio, there are no laws about how many school nurses there should be compared to the number of students. So the ratio is different from one district to another.
Some districts have one nurse per building but that is very rare. When boiled down only two districts in all of Lucas and Wood Counties follow federal guidelines.
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend no more than 750 students to one nurse.
Toledo Public and Oregon Schools score well but every other district falls short with overall ratios.
Some schools do not have any full time nurses including Otsego with nearly 1,700 children. Others have one part-time nurse like Ottawa Hills. There are those with one nurse to thousands of students.
The Bowling Green district where Brittany Howard is in charge of, watches close to 3,100 students.
"The perception is of what nurses did years ago or even in the past decade or two I don't think is realistic as to what's happening now in the schools and the requirements and the job functions that we have now," said Howard.
Howard said there are so many more responsibilities placed on school nurses including the increasing medical needs of the students, staying on top of the latest treatments, and training staff how to handle everything from scrapes to prescriptions.
"They're not medical professionals and I wouldn't want them to feel like they have to take on the role all the time. I wish I could take that off of them," said Howard.
Howard said her biggest challenge is not being able to be everywhere all the time and with approximately four million children injured at school each year in the United States, fewer nurses covering more students worries the national association of school nurses.
"That means the nurse is stretched so thinly that he or she may not be able to do the type of case management that is needed," said Linda Davis-Alldritt, President of the National Association of the School of Nurses.
The NASN says Ohio ranks 32 nationwide in student-nurse ratios with an average of 1328 to 1.
Michigan is dead last at 4411 to one. The group's president says those kinds of numbers
"The school nurse can truly save lives. If there's not access to a school nurse, then who can step forward at the school and provide the same level of care," said Davis-Alldritt.
With all that in mind this mom is asking Ohio state legislators to budget for the right medical professionals.
"So we as parents feel safe and feel assured that when our child goes to school they will be cared for properly," said the mother.
Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.
Here is a list of all the student-to-school nurse ratios for Lucas and Wood counties as well as links to national statistics.
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