Growing health needs prompt school to hire more nurses - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Growing health needs prompt school to hire more nurses

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With about 5,200 students district-wide, the workload is heavy for only five registered nurses. With about 5,200 students district-wide, the workload is heavy for only five registered nurses.
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

The Poplar Bluff School District will soon have two additional nurses on staff.

According to the school's health coordinator, the number of students with serious medical conditions has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.

"We had two EpiPens ten years ago and we have 66 EpiPens this year," Health Coordinator Sheryl Talkington said.

Talkington said the need for more nurses is not new.

"The number of health problems is just increasing," Talkington said. "We see it yearly."

According to Talkington, the number of serious medical conditions in the school has multiplied.

"These are our diabetes numbers. Ten years ago we had six total and this year we have 40 total," Talkington said.

School nurses do not only handle small issues like scrapes and headaches. Talkington said Poplar Bluff school nurses have to be ready for anything.

"Diabetic seizure issues, allergic reactions that kids have EpiPens for, you know, all kinds of issues," Talkington said.

With about 5,200 students district-wide, the workload is heavy for only five registered nurses.

"Last year, our sites had more than 70,000 visits to our health rooms," Talkington said. "That is huge."

The superintendent said the nurses on staff have been working in overdrive for years, but they'll have some help after the school hires two more nurses.

"Sheryl and her staff have done an excellent job of trying to stay up with flat staffing for the past probably ten years and with this increased enrollment and increased health issues, it's just time to add staff," Superintendent Chris Hon said.

Hon said even with state budget cuts, this need for nurses cannot wait any longer.

"They've had to eliminate some things they were doing for education and wellness stuff that they really need to be doing also," Hon said. "So they'll hopefully be able to do more of that."

Talkington is not sure why the number of medical conditions in the school have increased so dramatically, but she said that does not stop her from seeing the need for a change.

"You see the spectrum change in all areas of education but health is a big part of that," Talkington said.

Hon said school officials are currently in the process of posting the positions and will hire the nurses as soon as possible.

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