Nurse Shortage Leaves Families to Care for Kids

The nation’s nursing shortage affects many, but rarely do we get the chance to see its impact on patients. A story in Seven Days, a Vermont publication, took a look at one such patient. Natalie Briggs was born at 30 weeks. She is deaf and has a genetic condition that prevents her from breathing or swallowing on her own. Now eight years old, Natalie is walking and learning sign language but needs around-the-clock care. The state determined the family needed 112 hours of home nursing a week, reimbursed by Medicaid, but the couple says they receive a mere 70 hours a week because of the scarcity of nursing care. That leaves them, along with many other families in the United States, to pick up the slack, taking shifts between day jobs to care for their children. “The consequence of not having someone alert, ready to take care of the kids, is really dire,” Barbara Prine, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid’s Disability Law Project, said in the report.

Targeting School Absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism — when a student misses 15 or more school days in a year — is a huge issue in parts of Hawaii. Authorities believe health concerns, often severe allergies and asthma, may be contributing to the missed school days. So advocates in the Aloha State hope nurses can help stem the tide and keep kids in class, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports. The state is trying to place advanced practice registered nurses in schools to address this issue through its Hawaii Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn program. Schools across Hawaii already have access to school health aides, but those workers can only administer simple first aid or CPR. Meanwhile, APRNs are able to help diagnose and prescribe medications for asthma, allergies and other conditions believed to be keeping kids out of school. Hawaii’s legislature recently approved an added $2.8 million in funding for the program, Civil Beat reports. The new funds will allow for the hiring of 15 new nurses, along with the purchase of supplies and equipment, to help those areas in which the absenteeism is most acute.

Providing Continuity of Care for Foster Children

Foster children move not only from family to family, but possibly from health care provider to health care provider as well. That's why a clinic in Denver was set up to serve foster kids, The Denver Post reports. Called the “Connections for Kids Clinic,” the special site was created about 10 years ago as a partnership between the Denver Health Medical Center and the state’s human services’ child-welfare division. The program was developed so foster children could maintain continuity of care. That's why county child welfare caseworkers “strongly urge” foster families in Denver to bring their foster children to this specific clinic, where the children can maintain an ongoing relationship with the same caregiver. Clinic staff are experienced in treating foster children, who may have suffered some trauma, according to the Post. “They totally get kids in care, kids who have been traumatized. They are very much in tune with what our kids can and cannot do,” says Sister Michael Delores Allegri, who has been taking in foster children for more than two decades. “It relaxes them right away when they are nervous.”