Union: Only nurses can help with insulin

Only nurses should be allowed to help diabetic children inject insulin argues a lawsuit by the nurses’ union and the state teachers’ union. There’s only one nurse for every 2,200 students in California public schools. Currently, any school staffer can assist a diabetic student.

“My experience tells me (the students) really do better when you have a professional nurse working with them,” said Melinda Landau, a nurse and health manager for the San Jose Unified School District.

. . . Parents and a host of groups backing them — notably the American Diabetes Association — argue that school employees who volunteer to provide the shots can safely aid diabetic students, just as parents learn to care for their children at home.

“We all had to learn how to do it, and none of us are licensed medical professionals,” said Tamar Sofer-Geri, a Los Altos woman whose diabetic 12-year-old daughter, Tia, is now able to monitor her blood sugar and inject herself.

I’d bet Tia has been monitoring her blood sugar and injecting herself for years now.

In some schools, students need a doctor’s note to carry sunscreen, a dermatologist Ana Duarte tells Allure.    “The state of Washington is the only state that banned sunscreen in school, but lots have rules because it’s over-the-counter and there is a possible—but quite rare—risk of being allergic. There’s also the question of who will apply it—a nurse, a teacher?”

What about a child?

Time-wasting bureaucracy expands to charters

The “pathologies and pettifogging bureaucracy that so hinder district schools” are being forced on charters, writes Rick Hess. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education is demanding that 44 charter schools in Washington, D.C. prove they’re training teachers to serve students with diabetes — even if they have no such students.

Schools must provide:

. . . a “specific, narrative response to each of the complainants allegations;” “the school’s policies and procedures on, and narrative descriptions of, the school’s practice applicable to, the care of students with diabetes, including all relating to the provision of diabetes-related services;” “a description of–and all methods relating to–the method by which the school identifies students who have diabetes;” “copies of the section 504 and all other health plans for each school student with diabetes;” “the number of school staff knowledgeable about diabetes, including registered nurses, who are present at the school and the settings in which such staff are required to be present;” “diabetes-related training the school has provided or arranged for school staff during the 2010/2011 and the 2011/2012 school years;” and oodles more. The complaints included allegations that some schools did not have “adequate numbers of properly trained staff to monitor and administer medication” to students when they’re transported to and from school or during extra-curricular activities and field trips.

It’s usually safer to let juvenile diabetics manage their own medication than to let an unfamiliar adult take over. But this isn’t just about diabetes, Hess writes.

. . . multiply this little Kafkaesque exercise by all the imaginable complaints about every category of special need, every statute and regulation relating to public funds, every conceivable complaint that some special interest or grudge-holding group can surface, and expect schools to bulletproof themselves against all of that, and you realize how easy it is to prevent educators from actually focusing on education.

Compliance isn’t really about safety. If teacher training doesn’t guarantee teachers will  be prepared to teach multiplying fractions, I doubt spending some of that time training on diabetes, asthma, allergies, juvenile arthritis — and all the other medical conditions that might or might not occur — will turn teachers into competent paramedics.

On diabetes

My brother’s started a new blog, Dave on Diabetes, which will mix personal stories with news items and tips. I’ve contributed a post, Hello to Byetta, on how I came to love sticking a needle in my stomach twice a day.

If you’re diabetic or at risk, check it out.

Fat city

MeMe Roth’s crusade against cupcakes is driving P.S. 9 to the brink, reports the New York Times. The Upper West side mother, who runs National Action Against Obesity, is furious about “the cupcakes that come out for every birthday, the doughnuts her children were once given in gym, the sugary Fun-Dip packets that some parent provided the whole class on Valentine’s Day.”

The Roth kids are supposed to put “junk food” in a plastic container, but this went wrong when a teacher handed out juice pops.  Roth sent one of her vituperative e-mails. It all culminated with a suggestion the family request a “health and safety transfer.”

. . . Both parents left feeling they were being pushed out of P.S. 9, which they perceive as exhausted by Ms. Roth’s intense lobbying for, among other things, permission slips for any food not on the official lunch menu. It would not be the first time: The Roths previously lived in Millburn, N.J., where, after Ms. Roth waged war on the bagels and Pringles meal served to kids at lunch, received e-mail from one member of the P.T.A. that said, “Please, consider moving.”

. . . The police were called to a Y.M.C.A. in 2007 when she absconded with the sprinkles and syrups on a table where members were being served ice cream. That was Ms. Roth who called Santa Claus fat on television that Christmas, and she has a continuing campaign against the humble Girl Scout cookies, on the premise that no community activity should promote unhealthy eating.

The Roths had better not move to Chicago: Nachos rule Chicago public schools, reports a Tribune blog (via This Week in Education).

In today’s Tribune we look at the No. 2 most served entree to Chicago Public School students: nachos. When did nachos become an entree, much less an acceptable entree to serve daily to some of the most obese kids in the nation?

Nachos are a choice on high school menus every day, often served with tater tots and chocolate milk.

I’m a Type 2 diabetic from an all-diabetic family, so I know the challenges of living in a world of unhealthy goodies. But the key to good nutrition is a balanced diet. Going nuts over an occasional cupcake or the need to say, “No thanks” to a juice pop is just nuts.

I wonder how old “MeMe” was when she decided to spell her name that way?

School nurses get insulin monopoly

Diabetic students won’t be able to get help with insulin at most California schools, because a state judge has ruled that only a nurse can administer insulin shots. Most California schools don’t have a school nurse. Since the ruling late last year, parents of an estimated 15,000 diabetic children are “pushing school districts to hire nurses, driving to schools to administer the insulin shots and in some cases choosing home schooling,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Many doctors and diabetes advocates are outraged. Scores of lay people — babysitters, siblings, grandparents — regularly administer insulin, and they see no reason why trained, nonmedical school staff, like teachers or clerks, should not be allowed to help students. They fear the massive shortage of school nurses means children are not getting insulin shots in a timely manner. And they say diabetes is being used as a political tool to force school districts to hire more nurses — an unlikely scenario given the state’s $42 billion budget deficit.

“It’s untenable to expect nurses to be the sole provider of insulin in schools,” said Dr. Darrell Wilson, a pediatric endocrinologist at Stanford University and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “To say that only a nurse can do this is spectacularly unnecessary. This is not a complicated procedure.”

Nursing associations sued to make registered nurses the only source of insulin.

Of course, most children with diabetes handle their own blood sugar testing and insulin from a young age. It’s safer if they learn to take responsibility. But there are young children new to juvenile diabetes who could use help from an aide or teacher or volunteer. If they have to wait for a nurse to drive over from another school or for a parent to drive to school . . .