Thursday, May 02, 2013

Is Your Elementary School Understaffed? Panicked Mom (Me) Runs to Rescue Child From Having Asthma Attack Only To Find It Wasn't Her Kid

I've been debating if I should share what happened on Monday morning. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this story could bring awareness and possibly change.

My morning started off with smiles and hugs from my one year old. But then at 8:30 am my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. The number was Antioch Elementary, the school my three tweens attend. Of course I rushed to pick it up nervous something was wrong with Madison, my type 1 daughter. But it wasn't Madison's second grade teacher. It was the school's front office manager, sharing that my son, who I immediately thought was Joshua, was in the nurse's office having an asthma attack.

I think every version of OMG and WTF went through my mind. Joshua has had really bad seasonal allergies since he was born, which has triggered asthma episodes. But this year he hasn't had any asthma episodes. I just assumed he had grown out of it. Even the pediatrician shared on several occasions that kids can grow out of their allergies and asthma inhalers. So last fall I weaned Josh off the nebulizer and inhaler. And I never got backup medicine.

So after a few minutes of talking to the office manager and her making me feel better that Josh was breathing (just wheezing), I decided to try to get an emergency order of his allergy medicine. I left a message for the Triage nurse at the pediatricians office. I called the pharmacy trying to see if his prescriptions were still current. I couldn't get him anything. My mind was racing on what I should do next and how I can relieve Josh from his asthma attack. I decided to call the office manager back, letting her know where I was on trying to get him medicine. She said that there was a stash of inhalers that no one at the school could administer, but if I came in I could give it to Josh. Within seconds, my oversized goldendoodle, one year old and I were in the car zooming (okay, I drove a little over the speed limit) to the school. And I had to take my dog because he would have eaten Isabella's breakfast which I didn't have time to put away.

When I arrived, I noticed the office manager was on the phone talking to a parent, so I hurried to the nurses office with my one year old on my hip. When I entered, I noticed a boy (not mine) with dark hair, very tanned skin, wearing a yellow shirt sitting in a chair wheezing. He kind of looked like a darker smaller version of Josh. I shouted my son's name, thinking perhaps he was in the bathroom. But noone shouted back and the kid sitting there kept looking at me like I was a dumb blind parent because he was the only kid in the room and it was pretty obvious that no one was in the bathroom since the door was open. I looked at the kid again, and then it hit me. It was a bad case of mistaken identity.

I strolled back into the reception area and waited for the front office manager to get off the phone. When she did, I said, "That's not my kid in there." She looked at me totally confused by my words. Then she got up and we both walked back into the nurses office. I could tell from her facial expression that she was embarrassed and overwhelmed that morning. She looked at the kid and said, "You aren't a Moraja." The kid gave her the same "are you dumb and blind" look he gave me. I actually thought it was funny. This is so my life having unexpected bizarre coincidences that makes my mommy life entertaining.

When I got home, I reflected on what had happened. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt as if I needed to say and do something. Here's why! I think that if I would have had a doctors note on file at the school saying that the staff at Antioch Elementary could give my son a shot from an inhaler, I think the office manager would have given it to that kid. What would have happened if that kid had a reaction from medicine that wasn't prescribed for him, but given to him by mistake?

I don't place any blame on the office manager. I blame the system for not making sure there is well-trained medical person on site at our elementary school five days a week. I know the office manager loves these kids. She goes out of her way helping every parent and child that enters the office. But the principal at that school has her doing much more than any of us could manage. She fills in for the nurse, while also performing the job she was hired to do. Something has to change!

Every elementary school should be required to have a full-time nurse. No ifs ands or buts. This is a job that noone should take lightly. There are kids at Antioch Elementary having asthma attacks, vomiting, having allergic reactions, needing stitches, and requiring insulin shots. I have my hands full with taking care of one type 1 diabetic child. I can't imagine having to do my full-time work job and be a nurse at the same time.

Please feel free to forward to a friend. Our kids need a full-time nurse and our school staff needs a break.


Lisa Nelson said...

Hey Melissa,

WOW - how scary.

Yes, each school should have a full time nurse, no if and or buts. I totally one hundred agree with that.

Budget cuts.

I think our schools share nurses. So, one goes between the elementary and high school. Half day at the elementary and half day at the high school - or some such thing.

Anyway. I am really glad it worked out.

I think I found you on the Frenzy. I really liked the way your other site looked, with the organization of the books.

I look forward to staying connected.

Melissa Perry Moraja said...

It really is scary! We only have a nurse at our school three days a week. I complain all the time about it. I've even tried to have my type 1 daughters endocrynologist push for a full-time nurse. No luck! It's events like this that really makes me worried. Glad we connected! I have your name in for the giveaway too! xo Melissa

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