Health department wants nurses in every Metro school

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Metro Public Health Department is pushing for a nurse in every Metro school as school nurses are in short supply.

Jennifer Putnam is Antioch High School’s nurse. She is also the nurse to two other schools.

“I think most parents in Metro assume that their child goes to a school where there is a nurse who is there all day, every day,” said Putnam.

She spends a lot of time traveling from school to school and not in the office where kids think they can find help.

When a nurse isn’t in the building and someone isn’t feeling well, it’s up to the teachers, principals, and secretaries to take on the role.

That means kids without a dedicated nurse are missing more school than kids that do have one.

“Because when I see a child I’m able to do an assessment on them to determine if it’s likely their contagious, is this a tummy ache because they don’t want to take this test, or is this the beginning of a stomach bug,” Putnam explained. “Whereas when they go and see a secretary, the secretary is probably going to say, ‘Oh your stomach hurts very badly, you need to call mom and go home.'”

Right now, kids with chronic illnesses are the only ones who really get to see the nurse.

Changing that means paying a lot more nurses to make sure there is one in every Metro school.

That could be a multi-million dollar price tag, but they’re hoping parents think it’s priceless.

“Teachers aren’t equipped to deal with 30 kids, five of whom are some kind of not feeling well,” explained Putnam. “They need to have a place to go, and they can only have a place to go if I’m here in the building with them.”

To put a nurse in every school, the health department has asked the mayor for $4 million in its first year and then as much as $12 million annually.

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