Not every school has a school nurse. That’s a harsh reality for both rural and urban communities.
Avera is teaming up with local schools to make sure kids have access to healthcare during the school day.
Most people have never set foot in this building. For dozens of schools across KELOLAND, this is where their kids’ health is monitored.
“One of our school districts, we have 31 school districts that we serve in North and South Dakota. One of them had advertised all summer for a nurse. They had not one applicant. So when you think really rural, our farthest school out is right on the Canadian border,” said Freed.
The school nurse shortage is a national issue, which is why eCare decided to partner with schools in the region to lend a helping hand.
Special tools are kept at the schools, which faculty can use to check a child’s temperature, look inside their ears and throat, and examine the skin. All while a trained school nurse watches on live-chat.
This isn’t free, but there are grants available for schools who need financial help.
“With the Hersa Grant it’s $25 per student, per year. So let’s say you have 200 kids in your school building. Which some of ours do. Then that’s how you multiply it out,” said Freed.
With fewer nurses and more chronic illnesses, this is crucial to keeping kids in school.
“We want those kids to have the most normal setting possible. So that’s what school nurses do, is they help support the kids in the school setting. Plus, just all the typical things you see at school. The accidents, the allergies, the Epi Pens,” said Freed.
eCare is currently in talks with schools in Iowa.
Freed says they would like other regions to create their own programs to support nurses and kids.