Arlington school nurses making the grade on healthy kids

ARLINGTON – In an Arlington school district with 5,582 students, school board members were asked recently to guess how many trips were made to the school nurse’s office since the school year started.

Educated guess ranged from 10,000 to 15,000 from September to May.

The answer was 33,245.

“That’s not counting staff blood pressure checks,” District Nurse Krissa Cramer quipped to an outbreak of laughter.

The role of a school nurse still involves bandaging scraped knees and applying ice packs for pulled muscles and inflammation, but they are called on nowadays to do much more.

“We provide health care through assessment, intervention and follow up for children within a school setting,” Cramer said. “The school nurses address physical, emotional, and mental and social health needs of students and support their success in the learning process.”

The district has on staff seven licensed practical nurses, two registered nurses and a health room assistant assigned to offices in all schools but Weston High School. The team was recognized as part of National School Nurses Day earlier this month.

The main issues nurses deal with in Arlington include anxiety disorders, asthma and diagnosed mental or behavioral health issues, Cramer said.

Here is a snapshot of the health population in the district:

• 402 with ADD or ADHD

• 302 with asthma

• 267 with diagnosed mental or behavioral health issues

• 199 with developmental conditions (DD, Asperger’s, Autism, Downs)

• 84 with aphylaxia (severe allergy)

• 60 Cardiovascular

• 42 students in the district that have seizure disorders.

• 23 students with type 1 diabetes

• 2,601 with other health concerns ranging from muscular-skeletal to blood disorders.

Board member Kay Duskin asked about the district’s vaccination rates.

Cramer said about 88% of students are vaccinated, while 8% are exempt for personal, religious or medical reasons, and the other 4% are children with parents or caregivers who have not answered repeated calls and letters from nurses.

When the latest measles outbreak happened earlier this month with a confirmed case elsewhere in Snohomish County, the district was prepared, Cramer said. Nurses had a list of students who got a phone call home that said their names were on it, and that Snohomish County officials would advise them if there was anything further they needed to do.

Cramer said school nurses improve attendance through health promotion, which in turn adds to healthier, better performing students and productivity among staff.

School board members appreciated the caring that the nurses put in on behalf of children and parents.

“Over time, the needs for your services have really gone up,” Board member Jeff Huleatt said. “It just seems like year by year, there’s more conditions and more students that need more services.

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