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8News Special Report: Insulin Knowledge by School Staff Causes Concern

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CHESTERFIELD (WRIC) It's a disease affecting millions of kids in the U.S. but are Virginia schools doing enough to deal with diabetes and protect your kids?

Shannon Davis describes the moment her family first found out her son Joshua had type 1 diabetes. He was 11 months old and was within hours of dying.

"They told us at the time that he was within three hours of passing away, his body was in complete shut down, and our lives changed forever at that moment."

Now four, the Davis' are worried about sending Joshua to elementary school next year because of a lack of nurses in Chesterfield County.

"It's very overwhelming and very stressful to think about that if we have the wrong person in there not knowing what to look for, he could die."

Currently, nurses and uncertified aides administer insulin shots in Chesterfield. Those aides are trained by medical professionals. By law, nurses do not have to give insulin shots.

"You can train somebody to do something but if they don't have the working knowledge and the medical background to be able to recognize everything, mistakes are going to be made, it's inevitable," says Brian Davis.

8News asked the Davis' if they had heard of mistakes made in Chesterfield.

"Through word of mouth I have heard of several incidents that have happened of mis-care of a child with diabetes."

But the concerns go beyond Chesterfield.

Delegate Mark Cole introduced a bill last session to set new standards for training on how insulin is administered in schools after he was approached by a family in Stafford.

"I think something needs to be done, whether it's this legislation or some other type of legislation," he says. "They were concerned that the school staff wouldn't know what to do, and wouldn't be able to handle an emergency situation."

The bill ultimately failed and that family has since moved their child to a private school. It's a move Greg Waehner made in chesterfield earlier this year.

"I can tell you first hand, she has not been safe," he says. "I can tell you mistakes have been made."

Waehner says it's a concern they've had with Chesterfield since last year, their fears coming to fruition the first week of school this year as an aide administered insulin.

The first day Lily received an overdose of insulin. The second day he says she didn't get enough insulin.

"When I'm low, my stomach hurts," Lily says. "And my body starts moving all different ways, like I can't control, my body just shakes."

Lily's parents had to pull her out of the public school system and send her to another school.

"There's a happy side but there's a bad side, happy side, the grownups treat me better at my new school, they just make it easier, and bad side I had to leave all my friends, and you know that's not what every person has to do every day."

This year, Chesterfield has 34 nurses for 62 schools. Hanover has a nurse in every school. Richmond has 43 nurses or certified nursing assistants at every school. In Henrico, there are a total of 42 nurses and 36 clinic attendants for seventy two schools. Though the school system says they're moving to an all licensed staff by 2017.

Dr. Parham Jaberi is the medical director at the chesterfield health department. He says the health department, along with the school system, train aides annually. The training can last anywhere from one hour to a full day based on an aide's experience, each going through a checklist showing their competency and each aide has to demonstrate what they've learned before going into a school.

"At this point I'm fairly confident, or I should say I am confident in the services we provide," he says. "We insure that they have the proper knowledge and the proper training to be able to administer that medication."

But some parents fear it's going to take one critical mistake before something is done. EPI pens are now required in every school in the state after 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson had an allergic reaction that caused her to go into cardiac arrest and die in Chesterfield. Only a clinical assistant was there to respond to the emergency.

"Now we have EPI Pens in every school system, I don't want my son to be the one that finally causes you to get RN's in every school building."

Shannon Davis says requiring nurses be at every school could not only save diabetic kids, but many others as well.

Delegate Cole says he plans to reintroduce legislation to set new standards on giving kids insulin in schools.

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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