Hawaii Keiki Nurses work at all levels with the school to provide direct services to students, with the Complex Area Superintendent and principals to meet the needs of the local community, and with the Office of the DOE superintendant to build bridges to public and private health-related organizations.
What School Nurses Do
School nurses provide health services that can improve a student’s school attendance, learning and the overall health and effectiveness of the school. School nursing is a specialty within nursing that requires expertise in child health and development and passing an examination to be nationally certified. School nurses screen students for a variety of conditions that impact learning, including vision, hearing and developmental conditions. They provide episodic care, manage chronic conditions, track communicable diseases, promote healthy behaviors, connect children with insurance and health-care providers, and handle emergencies.
School nurses perform health and safety assessment including administering medications and being first responders to injured students or those who suffer from seizures. Monitoring and attending to students with asthma, diabetes and seizures significantly decreases the number of days they miss from school.
The Hawaii Keiki program improves our students’ chances to be successful in school by:
- Working with individual schools to understand and address local keiki health needs.
- Serving as an expert resource in school health to teachers and principals.
- Reducing health-related absenteeism.
- Identifying and preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
- Providing referrals for additional services and emergency care.
School Nurses Don’t Help Just Students
A school nurse returns time to teachers, principals and staff by addressing a child’s health concerns. Before Milwaukee hired school nurses, school staff reported spending an average of 13 hours a day per school on health concerns at an estimated annual cost of $133,000 in salary and fringe benefits, almost twice the cost of hiring a nurse.
School Nurses Provide a Return on Investment
In 2014, Massachusetts showed a $2.20 cost benefit for every $1 spent on school-based nursing services.
When the Milwaukee Public Schools placed additional RNs in 27 of its schools with a ratio of 1:750 in mind, impressive gains were made in immunization rates, identification of asthma and life-threatening conditions, the number of vision screenings, and educational time restored to teachers and others who previously handled health issues.
A study in North Carolina, where nurse/student ratios ranged from 1:451 to 1:7440 found that services to children with diabetes, asthma, injuries and conditions such as depression or unintended pregnancy grew as ratios improved. Follow-up after vision screenings also improved markedly.
The Hawaii Keiki program brings certified school nurses into the educational environment and helps overall school success by:
- School nurses improve student attendance through prevention and management of communicable diseases like measles, colds and flu.
- Access to school nurses improves academics because healthy students are better able to learn.
- Principals, teachers and staff can focus on teaching.