Need help/advice on Epipen access at school

Posted on: Sun, 09/02/2001 - 10:54am
DRobbins's picture
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Joined: 07/19/2001 - 09:00

In general, our school nurse has been helpful in helping keep my PA son safe at school. She even loaned me her Epipen Trainer on a couple occasions. She seems to know a good amount about PA, although as we all know, that doesn't mean she "gets it".

So here's my concern: she doesn't agree with me about the need to have an Epipen available in the school cafeteria or on the playground (recess is immediately after lunch).

She says the school cafeteria is close enough to her office to get the epipen if it's needed, and I don't agree, especially since the children are supervised during lunch (and recess) by the "cafeteria ladies", not by the teachers or other trained personel, so there might be extra time involved in realizing that there's a problem, then in running up the stairs, through heavy double doors, down the hall and into her office. Also, what if the nurse isn't in her office, and her medicine cabinet is locked?

When I told her I was concerned about Epipen availability (or rather the lack of it!) on the playground during recess, especially the recess immediately following lunch, she didn't understand why, since the kids weren't supposed to be eating while out on the playground. I reminded her that reactions can occur up to 4 hours after ingestion. And what if a kid who ate a PB&J for lunch leaves peanut butter from their hands on the monkey bars, then my PA son handles the monkey bars and then puts his fingers in his mouth (a habit we're still trying to break [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] )?

She blew off my concerns by going into how difficult it would be for the supervising adult (the "cafeteria lady") to have epipens available for each food allergic child out on the playground. So I suggested medicine lockboxes right inside the door from the playground and in the cafeteria in which epipens could be stored. She thought that control of the key to the lockbox was too much of a pain, too.

Has anyone found a solution to these issues? I've spoken with my son's teacher, and she seems to "get it" as much as anyone can who doesn't have a PA child. She'll have an epipen in the classroom, a peanut ban in the room (we're not asking for one in the cafeteria, and not trying to ban "may contains" in the classroom), a "This is a peanut free classroom" sign on the door, will allow me to chaperone all field trips and class parties, and promises NO PEANUT BUTTER BIRD FEEDER PROJECTS [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] What more could a parent want from a first grade teacher?

But the issue with the school nurse has me stumped. Does anyone have any ideas for getting epipens available on the playground and in the cafeteria?

Thanks for any advice,
Debbie

Posted on: Sun, 09/02/2001 - 11:45am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

Oh, this is SO frustrating to hear school officials making these excuses...it's too "difficult." Yes, it's difficult, but the child needs an epipen immediately available at ALL times. And ESPECIALLY during and after lunch. You have an epi available at all times when your child is with you, and the school must provide the same level of care. Period. They have to find a way to do it. Suggest a lunchtime aide be assigned to your child. If it's a public school and you have a 504, start talking about a lunchtime aide. They'll find a way. They have to.

Posted on: Mon, 09/03/2001 - 6:44am
CarolynM's picture
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Joined: 03/27/2001 - 09:00

Our school nurse goes out with the kids at recess when they go to the playground. She takes the Epi and a first aid kit. This has worked out because she has been more available for accidents on the playground. Maybe you could suggest this to the nurse. This was actually the head school nurse's idea because they were concerned that the cafeteria workers may not recognize the signs of a reaction. And the nurse actually likes it because she gets to be outside a little!

Posted on: Mon, 09/03/2001 - 9:04pm
SLICE's picture
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Joined: 07/20/2000 - 09:00

We have 3 PA kids in my son's 1st grade class and they have 504 status, so the district has hired an aide to be in the classroom, lunchroom and playground with them and follow them to all specials, like music and art. Even with just one PA child, they must assure safety, and they can get funding for the aide. Your child has the right (by law) to be safe at school. Don't let them make you feel like you're being unreasonable - it's your child's life at stake. Good luck!

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