Nurse shortage hits schools


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The need for nurses is growing, and with Baby Boomers nearing retirement more facilities and hospitals will need these vital medical staff. Another place in need of nurses is local schools.

Recent national news has showcased some tragic incidents of young people passing away, because the school district they were in didn’t have a nurse in the building during a medical emergency.

The Sioux Falls School District has 36 different buildings. Not every building has a designated nurse there at all times, however district officials say they’re still luckier than most.

“We feel really fortunate that our school board and the community has always really supported our school nurses being in school. That’s just really important because students have so many health needs and that continues to grow,” Sioux Falls School District Health Services Coordinator Molly Satter said.

Those health needs have drastically changed over the years, according to Health Services Coordinator, Molly Satter. Nurses are now facing life challenging illnesses and conditions on a daily basis, and they’re okay with that.

“Language barriers, or just physical barriers too. So we have to be very in tuned with what’s going on in our building,” Lincoln High School nurse Laura Parrish said.

Laura Parish looks after the thousands of kids at Lincoln High School every day. She says she feels lucky to have the resources and time to care for each kid, even though it’s a lot of work. Independence is a big factor the district looks for when hiring school nurses.

“We usually look for someone who has strong background in being able to respond to emergencies. So several of our nurses come from ICU’s, ER’s, and those kind of things. Nurses who have obviously worked in pediatrics. Some community health, are all strong backgrounds,” said Satter.

“There’s quite the undertaking. There’s over 2,000 students in some of our buildings. Obviously here at Lincoln it’s over that as well. With that, a lot of organization. A lot of follow up. Parent calls. When they do online registration, the parents put in their conditions and stuff and there’s follow up with that,” said Parish.

“It’s just important for them to be able to work individually. They’re often times the one health person in the building, so they have to be able to respond to those health emergencies and student needs,” said Satter.

So what happens in the other buildings, that don’t have a full-time nurse in house? Satter says other faculty members have learned to step up.

“We have our nurses put together care plans, and then the care plan outlines the student’s condition and what maybe accommodations or needs that they have,” said Satter.

Even with the extra work, and sometimes traveling between schools, nurses like Parish say it’s all worth it. The schedule and connection with the kids make it feel like it’s not even work. Plus, with more medical conditions being brought into the school every year, the job security is certain.

“I don’t ever fore-see the nurses being able to come out of the buildings. Just because of certain tasks that have to be done, that only nurses can do,” said Parish.

Both women say the eCare system through Avera has been a huge help to them.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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