Medical Obstacles Overcome (part 3)
Jan 07, 2015 05:01PM ● Published by Dia
The Lives We LeadDistrict-wide program assists diabetic students
Reading, writing and recess. Those things are on the mind of most kids during the school day. But for some, there are other things more important than who gets to the playground first. First grader Lucas has to think about what finger he’s supposed to prick to test his blood sugar, and eighth grader Liam has to plan out his carbohydrate intake before lunch. Both have type 1 diabetes and must monitor and treat their condition while at school.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes requires regular blood-sugar checks, insulin injections and food intake monitoring. In addition, diabetics need access to water and snacks as necessary to control symptoms and possible complications. Seeing a need for this in the district, Keller ISD began the Safe in School program.
“The Safe in School program was implemented as a district policy due to the number of diabetic students in the district,” says Rhonda Hendricks, RN, of Keller Harvel Elementary—and Lucas’ school nurse. “The policy is used as a safety measure and allows students structure and the ability to test in the classroom. It also provides trained individuals to assist in care on campus when a nurse is not available and to attend field trips and other off-campus activities when a nurse is not available.”
Although Liam’s family resides in Southlake, they are in the Keller school district zone. “We’ve dealt with Keller ISD elementary, intermediate and now middle school, and we’ve never had a problem,” says Traci Rhodes, Liam’s mom. “The school district is phenomenal. From the top down, the nurses always tell us, ‘You tell us what you need, and we will provide.’”
Melinda Baker, RN works with another diabetic student at the high school level, Taylor. Active in sports, Taylor is on the varsity golf team. Taylor visits Nurse Baker every afternoon before golf to make sure she is in the right condition to play. If any red flags are raised, Taylor must forgo golf for the day. “I feel very comfortable with the school,” says Sarah Robinson, Taylor’s mom. “If it were not for the special training her teachers and coaches received, Taylor might not have the opportunity for a normal school life.”
But the interaction the school nurses have with these students goes above and beyond just managing their symptoms. They have the unique opportunity to help these students learn how to better manage their condition with long-term benefits. “Nurse Rhonda shows Lucas the little nuances of treating his condition, such as rotating fingers for testing,” says Gaye Montemayor, Lucas’ mom.
At such a young age, Lucas is still learning how to care for himself when it comes to his diabetes. Thanks to the trained care he receives at school, he has reached a significant milestone. Lucas knows to alert his teacher or nurse if he is not feeling well. And lucky for Lucas, thanks to their Safe in School training, the teachers and nurses at his school know exactly what to do to help him.
For most, living with type 1 diabetes is a daily reminder that you have to do some things differently in life. You can imagine that for children, who want so badly to fit in and be “normal,” being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can be a struggle. But thanks to a Keller ISD district-wide program, kids with type 1 diabetes can attend a mainstream school and still get the care they need. Not only can the students feel safe while at school, but they can manage their symptoms without drawing a lot of attention and most importantly to them, “fit in.”
“This program insures safety and flexibility for the diabetic students,” says School Nurse Rhonda Hicks at Keller Harvel Elementary. “Under this policy the students, with doctor and parental permission, are allowed to test their blood glucose levels (BGL) outside the clinic in classrooms and other areas. This minimizes the time missed from class and gives the student more control of their disease.”