Where’s the school nurse?

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Our athletic training room serves as a nurse’s office.

Kaijona Wade, Sports Editor

Of the many differences that come along with attending Bellarmine as opposed to another high school, one that made itself prevalent one horribly painful day was the lack of a school nurse. Where is that nurse who lets you lie on one of those cold, slightly cushiony beds with a blanket just thin enough to create some warmth? Where can someone go when a sudden illness overcomes them or their lips hurt and are in need of Chapstick?  Why does Bellarmine not have a school nurse?

Looking into this topic, it seemed almost ironic that Bellarmine has an athletic trainer but not a school nurse. That is to say, only athletic problems are treated but for normal illnesses there is no specialist and you’re on your own. There’s a sick room, but with a 15 minute “sick limit,” meaning that after those 15 minutes are up, it’s back to class for you.

Fellow Student Services Office staff members Susan O’Leary and Jamie Mondillo believe that Bellarmine needs a school nurse. Asserting that with such a big student population, there needs to be someone who manages all these illnesses and medications who is certified.

Not to mention the strict limit as to what staff members can do. “We have ice and we have Band-Aids. And that’s as far as we can go,” said Mondillo. Though Bellarmine is equipped with at least one first-aid trained provider in every building, of these, the vast majority are teachers themselves. In the event that a student was to get hurt or sick and the bell just rang, a decision would have to be made. For Athletic Trainer and Health Instructor Tigre Garcia, the hardest question is, “Do I go help them or do I go to my class?” And if a student gets hurt or is sick and comes to the Student Services Office, “We can’t give cough drops, we can’t give an aspirin and we can’t give Neosporin. And if someone has a cut, we can’t put hydrogen peroxide on it,” Mondillo and O’Leary said. Who is someone who could do all these things you might ask? A school nurse.

Now of course having a school nurse raises arguments such as “it would keep kids out of class” or “if they’re sick they should go/stay home.” But what about the kids who don’t have cars or have parents who work during the day? What if going home before school ends isn’t an option? At least by having a school nurse you could get a temporary fix to an illness or maybe even an early diagnosis.

Also, with the rise of diabetes, asthma, and other serious conditions it seems more and more valuable to have someone on staff that could treat these issues in the case of an attack. For Garcia, it’s a matter of safety, “There are many kids with medical issues coming to Bellarmine,” and without a school nurse there is no one ultimately looking out for these kids.  “If I had a child who was looking at coming to Bellarmine, I would put this on the forefront.” Garcia told the story of a parent who ultimately chose not to have their child with diabetes attend Bellarmine.  “Who’s going to help my son, ” asked the parent.

For Bellarmine Principal Chris Gavin, having a school nurse isn’t a necessity, fully believing in the capabilities of the first-aid providers. “It’s satisfactory in the sense that it allows procedurally somebody who has a little bit more training in the case of an emergency to be able to respond,” Gavin said. Having a school nurse is also an expense, “it’s the equivalent of a teaching position,” said Gavin. Would the benefits outweigh the cost? Well, you can never be too careful, and with someone looking out for the students ranging from those with the most serious of illnesses to the ones with a sudden scape, having a school nurse will surely ease the pain.