Rec Program help

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 12:01am
KCRC's picture
Joined: 07/07/2008 - 06:47

This is my first time posting, so I hope this is the correct forum. And, I'm sorry it's long...

My town has a summer recreation program available to all children. Before signing my 5 year old up to attend, I spoke to the person in the recreation office to let them know of my son's peanut allergy, and asked if they could handle that at their camp. I was told that yes, they have several children at their camps with allergies, they always have epi-pens etc. on hand, etc. etc. So, I signed him up.

Well, today is the first day of camp. My husband takes my son, and brings his epi-pen and benadryl with him, and tries to give it to the counselor. The counselor (understandably, an older teen) says she can't administer that. Well, we worked our way up to the person that was in charge at the camp. All the counselors could say was that they are not allowed to administer any type of medicine. That MY 5 YEAR OLD is expected to be able to administer all medicines to himself.

Now, my son is very well aware of his allergy. We stress constantly not to take food. He's very good about asking before eating anything. BUT HE'S 5. How can they expect a healthy 5 year old - let alone one that may be in the middle of a reaction - to dose out the proper amount of Benadryl and know when it's time to inject himself with an epi-pen and do so properly?

I'm angry on so many levels. If I had known they couldn't handle this, I would never have signed him up in the first place. Now that he's there, he will be devastated if I tell him he can't go back again. And this is a TOWNSHIP program, not some small private gym. How can a township get away with not being able to handle this?

Has anyone else been in this boat? I'm not sure what to do. To me, it's as bad as a school saying they can't handle a peanut allergy.

Thanks in advance for any input.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:26am
MtnDoo's picture
Joined: 04/18/2008 - 07:42

As far as the benadryl goes, I'd send those "perfect measure" spoonfuls or the quick melt thin strips (I found them in Target, not Walmart or the grocery store). Those would be easy for him to use and get the right dosage.
The rest would tick me off. That's outrageous. How can a kid, who could possibly be in the midst of an ana reaction, be expected to inject himself? Or, an adult, for that matter? It sounds like they couldn't possibly understand the realities of an allergic reaction. Nobody in their right mind could understand it, and expect a little kid to administer their own epi.
Is there a township recreation director that you could speak to? I'd keep going up the ladder...
If you don't get a reasonable response, I'd demand my $$ back. Sign your dc up for something else.
I have not been in this boat yet, thankfully. Though it's always dicey, explaining to someone about an epi-pen... the cringing, the wincing, etc... yeah, nobody wants to jam a needle in someone's leg, but it's not *that*'s idiot proof at least, and not exactly gory.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:31am
GeGe's picture
Joined: 06/26/2008 - 16:11

Is there a nurse on staff all the time? She/he should be responsible for the meds, just like at school. If there isn't, and all you have are teenagers in charge, I wouldn't let my PA kid go there.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 9:50am
Edinview's picture
Joined: 08/25/2003 - 09:00

OMG! Same thing just happened to me today!
We signed up for a sports camp and dropped the registration at City Hall in their park/rec office. I thought it was run by the city. The receptionist took my registration and said they had lots of kids with allergies in the program.
I get there today and the director of the program wants me to stay. Explains that they are not certified in first aid - NONE OF THEM! OK, there are about 80 kids there ranging from 4-10 and no one has taken a first aid class? Huh?!! So they explain that because they are concentrating on coaching and developing skills they cannot watch my son all the time for symptoms. I know this seems like a teachable moment but I didn't think they would be receptive to learning while there were all the little kids around. I did ask if he had problems and collapsed on the field whether they wouldn't notice and come to his aid. They agreed that would happen. I also asked if they wouldn't then call 911, and they said they would. But the director also kept insisting that they were not trained to administer the epi-pen and felt that was too much of a liability for their program to take on.
At the end of the discussion, they asked that I stay for the 2 1/2 hour camp every day so that I could lend assistance if there were any problem. Now there isn't any snack time, nor are snacks allowed on the field. Very low probability of exposure.
What makes me so mad is that if they had called anytime in the last 6 weeks that they have had my registration (which indicated that we had PEANUT ALLERGY) and explained this in advance, we may have decided not to participate, or I may have decided to make my own dr. appointments on a different week and had a clear schedule to stick around(if I have to reschedule it will be another few weeks before I can get in). Yes, my son is also excited about the program and it would be disruptive and really disappointing to him to pull him out of the program. Summer is so short around here so I really resent having my schedule messed with for the entire week!

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 11:18pm
KCRC's picture
Joined: 07/07/2008 - 06:47

Thanks for your inputs. I'm glad it's not just me who thinks it's crazy.
The counselors with each group are teenagers, but there are definitely adults on site to oversee everything.
I spent much of yesterday afternoon having "discussions" with the program coordinator and other members from our township. Their rationale was that they would incur too much liability if they gave the wrong dose of medicine. First, if they can't read the instructions I had written down, then they shouldn't be watching children. Second, the epi-pen IS a dose. It's not like they are measuring something into a needle. I asked him how much liability they would have by standing there and doing nothing if my son was having a reaction. He told me that would be up to lawyers to decide. Great answer, huh?
And I agree with Edinview. They had weeks from when the form was filled out until now to prepare themselves or contact us, etc. and be ready for the camp to start.
So, my battle will continue today. I have calls into the township manager and another department head. The next stop after that is the mayor's office.
I'm not asking for much. All I want is 1 adult on site to be responsible for helping a kid get the medicine that they need if they are having a reaction. If you can be trained in CPR to help save a life, why not this too?

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 1:05am
poodles02's picture
Joined: 01/31/2008 - 04:21

Good luck, KCRC. The blooming idiots should have let you know that they were too scared, stupid, or whatever their problem is well before the program started so you could make other plans. Please keep us posted on your progress with the township officials.

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 1:52am
MtnDoo's picture
Joined: 04/18/2008 - 07:42

I don't understand their reasoning at all. The epi-pen is designed to be idiot proof. You can't screw it up (unless you decide to stick it in the wrong spot). That's the whole point. Even if you injected it at the "wrong time", i.e. no ana reaction...the kid would be fine.
If you are certified in first aid & cpr, and stand there while someone collapses from a heart attack, I'd say that is negligent. If you stand there while someone collapses from an ana reaction, you know there's an epi, and you don't use it, that's negligent.
If a school can administer an epi w/o it being a big liability issue, why can't the town?

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 4:25am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

There should be no assuming any person receiving epinephrine will be 'fine'. Epinephrine is a medication with some serious side effects. That is why anyone receiving a shot of epinephrine must be immediately taken to the hospital for monitoring.
Not sure, but doesn't a town and it's programs fall under ADA regulations? I'm not certain, but why don't you do a search on this site and see if you come up with anything.

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 4:45am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

Look into ADA regulations.
From the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division website:
[i]The Department also has provided technical assistance to centers to enable the providers to find ways to accommodate children with severe allergies. For example, in 2006, the Department offered technical assistance to a large language immersion summer camp program in the Midwest that had refused to enroll a child with severe food allergies because the provider would not agree to administer epinephrine via an "Epi-pen Junior" in the event of a life-threatening emergency. After receiving technical assistance from the Department, the camp decided to enroll the child and she participated successfully in the camp program.[/i]
[i]The ADA Information Line (1-800-514-0301/v; 1-800-514-0383/tty) assists callers in understanding the ADA and how it applies to a caller's specific situation, thereby assisting people with disabilities in fully participating in all aspects of society.[/i]

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 12:16pm
cristym's picture
Joined: 11/19/2007 - 17:26

Next Monday my son is to start a week long camp at our Township park. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they are better prepared. They are aware of his allergy, I made sure to discuss it with them when I registered since they do have snacks and lunch. I will let you all know if I have any issues.

Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2008 - 1:38am
KCRC's picture
Joined: 07/07/2008 - 06:47

I spoke with the Township Head of Recreation this morning. He said he's been speaking with the Township Clerk to figure out what they can do.
I let him know that at all my son's preschools, etc., we filled out a form giving them permission to administer the medicine in case of an emergency, and what the doses should be. He asked for a copy of the form, so perhaps they could use it as a basis for the town. So, HOPEFULLY we're making a little progress.
Thanks, Krusty Krab, for the ADA link. I have that printed and ready to go should the town start pushing back.
Cristym, you may want to give the camp a call and just double check before you do get there on Monday. It will certainly make things easier and, should nothing be in place, at least you can get things moving.


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