Our Children’s Health

by SKHC Editor on August 10, 2007

If you are a veteran of school nursing and serving in the trenches, long ago you knew it to be true.  Even if you can’t call yourself a veteran, you couldn’t help but notice it screaming at you from the headlines and other forms of media.  “It” is the news that comes to us from the study by researchers at Harvard University, recently published in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, June, 2007).  In a report on the study, The Boston Globe states, “The number of children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled since the time when some of their parents were children.”The statistics are staggering, and “…a fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades, twice the asthma rates since the 1980s and a jump in the number of attention deficit disorder cases are driving the growth.”  Further, the article says 18 percent of children are obese, up from 5 percent in 1974; 9 percent of children have asthma; and about 6 percent of school-age children have ADD.  “These three conditions…overwhelm all other chronic conditions,” says Dr. James Perrin, lead author of the study.Dr. Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says that it is “…an epidemic…a call to action.”  He expresses concern that the monies that we will spend on health care for people currently in their 20s is something that no one is preparing to deal with.So…what’s a school nurse to do?

When this information is put into the context of health care reform, it is clear that a health care crisis of major proportions is looming on the horizon.  Combine this data set with the statistics from “KIDS COUNT” (Annie E. Casey Foundation) and the state by state comparison of school nurse to student ratios (NASN, School Nurse News, June, 2007, “How Does Your District Measure Up?”), and school nurses have powerful information that can be used to speak out on behalf of children’s health care.

It is an election year – the timing is right.  The National Association of School Nurses has moved to Washington, D.C., so it is in a position to act.  It will take all of us, each of us, to make it happen!

Begin by contacting your legislators at all levels of government.  Share your personal stories.  Ask them to support health care reform, in general, and at the federal level, to support the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the continuation of Medicaid reimbursement for services provided to our students.

As school nurses, we know that the health care system is broken.  Our legislators have the power to fix it – for ALL of our children.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  (Margaret Mead)

Twyla Lato, RN, BSN, NCSN is a School District Nurse for a suburban community in southeast Wisconsin, and a past president of the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses. 

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