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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

School nurses and asthma

School nurses and asthma

So what's the Winning With Asthma? It's a way to help out the school nurses by having other people know what to do if a student has an asthma attack.

I just read an article in our local paper, and I am stunned by how hard the school nurses work. I know they don't just take care of asthma, they have to deal with students that have diabetes, seizure disorders, ADHD, and developmental delays just to list a few.

Then, what about the student who falls and hits their head while on the monkey bars? Or someone who falls of the swing and breaks their arm?

In our area, there are 3 school districts. One school district has a nurse/student ratio of 1:6,004, another has 1:4,222 and another has 1:7,643.

What do you do if your son or daughter has an asthma attack? Is the school nurse there? For Kitty, she's fine as long as she has an asthma attack on Thursday between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm. For Son #2, he can have an asthma attack on Mondays between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm. That's when the school nurse is there at their schools. (Like you can ever plan a convenient time to have an asthma attack!)

So, what do you do? I carry my cell phone everywhere I go, usually it's me that's on call. I run over to the school to help out, leaving work or my grocery cart in the middle of the aisle.

There is an option for school teachers, recess guards and secretaries. (or anyone else that wants to learn!) The Utah Department of Health has a program called "Winning with Asthma", it's an online training that takes about 20 minutes. It was originally made for coaches, but anyone who works with kids should take it. It explains what asthma is, shows a student having an asthma attack, and shows how to treat it. After you complete the training, if you put your address in, they will send you a free clipboard that has the warning signs of an asthma attack printed on the back, and when to call 911.

I would send it to your child's teachers or anyone else at the school who helps your child (or scouts, or recreation sports) I sent it to Kitty's soccer coaches. I also sent it to her school teacher - last year she had 7 kids in her class with asthma! It might give you a little peace of mind to know that people taking care of your child during the day know what to do.

Log on and do the training, then let me know what you think. I'm always anxious for feedback but don't get many comments on the blog. Feel free to leave a comment, I don't bite!


  1. It is one of the most frustrating parts of sending Alorah to school. There are a few things I do. First of all if she is flaring AT ALL at home (I mean if her PF's are in the yellow and she has one other sign of respiratory distress) I refuse to send her to school. I do not trust anyone with her, especially right now. There are many times when she never yellow zones, she goes straight to red and her pulse-ox is below 90. She is also one of "those" kids who never respond as well to an inhaler as she does to a neb (possibly because her asthma mostly affects her small airway). At school she knows to go to the nurse 20 min. before PE to do 2 puffs on her inhaler (something is better than nothing). If it is windy outside and the pollen count is high or if the air quality index is low I call the school and have them keep her in the office for recess (they are fantastic about that-thank goodness) where she reads a book and kicks back. She wears a mask to school every day to try to keep germs and pollen out. Is it perfect? No. However it does keep her hands away from her nose/mouth and if someone coughs she isn't going to inhale all of that in. Her immune system is shoddy right now due to so many steroid bursts the past few months. I call and check on her, sometimes my gut just screams "CALL" and sometimes she is actually tight and others she is fine. I am militant w/ the preventative meds and I email her teacher if she had an iffy night before to keep an eye on her. They have chores in her class and one of them is to take the chalk board erasers out and beat them on the sidewalk-obviously we forbade that from EVER being Alorah's chore. Most of all I talk to the school all.the.time about her asthma. They have a pf there and I've told them that if she ever gets to a certain place on her asthma action plan to not even mess around with her inhaler-just call 911. If I had the ability to home school her, I would. I worry every day about her but I trust my instincts and when she does miss we make sure to never fall behind.

  2. Oh and her school does a course called Open Airways with teachers and they ask all students with asthma to attend.

  3. Wow, does all of that sound familiar! There was one point where Son #2 was down 100 points on his peak flow for 6 months. Asthma Doc asked us to pull him out of school for 6 weeks, to let him rest and build his immune system up. So we did, I'll blog about that today. Oh, and good job with Open Airways, I've taught that course twice. We just can't seem to get the schools to let us come in and teach it. Not sure why....

  4. Hi! I'm a writer for's Health section and would love to interivew you for a story I'm writing on school nurses this week. Please email me at ASAP.

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