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Senate Budget Plan Could Help School Nurses

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Nurses often divide their time between several schools and thousands of students, but the state Senate's budget plan could make a dent in this problem.

Sally Couture is the school nurse at Green Hope High School in Cary, Phillips High School and Athens High School in Raleigh.

"A lot of times, we're just putting out fires," she said.

Couture divides her week and time among 4,400 students at three schools. She handles everything from asthma and diabetes to mental health.

"It's hard to develop a relationship with each individual school because we are running a lot. Many times, they don't know all that we do behind the scenes," she said.

Nurses often have to train school staff how to handle medical problems. The state senate's budget includes 50 new school nurses at a cost of $2.5 million.

"In some counties, we have one school nurse to 7,500 students. The national recommendation is one school nurse to 750 students," said Joanne Stevens, a lobbyist for school nurses.

Stevens says 10 percent of North Carolina's students have chronic diseases and need medical attention at school.

"There's just so many things. I would certainly not want to be in a school without a school nurse," she said. "It won't solve the problem, but it's certainly going in the right direction."

Gov. Mike Easley's budget proposal and the Senate version both include the additional nurses, but the House plan does not.


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