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CON Alumna, Janice Telsrow Featured in QC Times Article on School Nurses

School nurses do more than tend to sick kids

By Deirdre Cox Baker

In a 10-minute span one Wednesday morning, school nurse Janice Telsrow saw four students who needed medication dispensed to them, one who was returning clothes he had borrowed the day before and a sixth child who apparently had injured her knee.

Telsrow, who works at Wilson Elementary School in Davenport, is an example of someone who does a lot more in their job than other people might think. Her typical day in the Quad-Cities is similar to a scene that is repeated in schools across the state.

"Many people believe all we do is take care of cuts and scrapes, and we do that. But we also handle many other medical conditions. School nursing has changed, even in the 13 years I've been a school nurse," she said. "We do a lot more with sick kids."

By "sick," she means children who have a variety of pre-existing medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, seizure disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Some need emergency health plans, such those with allergies who might need to use an EpiPen (a device that injects a dose of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline) to treat an acute allergic reaction. That's handled by the school nurse, who also coordinates each student's individual health needs plan with their teachers.

The aim is to care for the children so they stay focused and interested in the classroom.

"Children can't learn if they aren't healthy," Telsrow said.

Phone calls
Telsrow spends a good deal of time on the phone speaking to parents, especially because of the many conditions presented by the students. At Wilson, she has 29 appointments per day for children who get some type of medication, which is double-locked and stored in her office. She also averages 30 children per day who come to see her with a complaint of some kind.

"I've seen up to 115 children in my office in one day," she said, adding that her great frustration is a lack of time with the students. To save precious time during the school day, Telsrow makes ice bags at home, takes them to school and stores them in an office refrigerator.

She can be sure a bag full of ice will be needed at some point.

Sure enough, while a reporter is interviewing her, an aide brings a young girl into Telsrow's office. The girl has fallen while getting off the bus and hurt her knee. The nurse quickly takes action, asking the girl to remove her tights so she can check the knee and then offers an ice bag. During the check-up, she asks several questions about the child's well-being - and whether she had time for breakfast.

Gillian McLeod, 7, then pops into the office with a girlfriend for a dose of her regular medication. "If Gillian comes in on time, she can sign in for the meds," Telsrow says as the little girl with long brown hair works hard to pencil in the correct time on a sheet kept just for that purpose.

The children she sees every day are fun to talk to, Telsrow said, and there is never a dull moment in her job.

Appreciative parents
Gillian's mother, Raquel Rodriguez of Davenport, appreciates the care her second-grader gets from the school nurse. Raquel leaves for work at 6 a.m. every day, so Gillian can sleep a bit later and then get her required medication as soon as she arrives at school.

"This is much more convenient," Rodriguez said.

Patrick Loeffler's mother, Christine, said her 8-year-old son gets medication for ADHD. Christine - who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis - said that having her son's medicine dispensed to him at school is valuable to her.

"It helps so much to have someone to help at school," she said. She also noted that the nurse's office reminds her when the prescription for his medication needs to be renewed.

"Multiple sclerosis affects my memory," she said. "If it wasn't for the school nurse, I don't know where I'd be some days."

Nursing background
Telsrow has a nursing degree from the University of Iowa. She worked first in pediatric intensive care at the Children's Hospital in Iowa City and then was employed as a public health nurse. She served as a school nurse for 11 years in Wilton, Iowa.

She got the job at Wilson in Davenport two years ago and is also the nurse at Buffalo Elementary School.

Telsrow works three days at Wilson, which has 550 students, and two days a week in Buffalo, where there are 250 pupils. On the days she's not in the nurse's office, the district assigns a health para-educator to a four-hour shift.

Records and logs like the one filled out for medications help Telsrow and the para-educator know what happens from day to day with the students, and there are phone calls to stay connected. Actually, Telsrow said one of the biggest changes in her job comes with electronic communications since she now contacts parents regularly through text messages, cellphone calls and emails.

***Reposted with permission from the Quad-City Times

Posted On: 
Jan 23rd, 2012