Code Red: Workshops help school nurses stay prepared for any situation

Participants brush up on their skills before school starts so they can perform both routine and life-saving procedures

Codwell ES Nurse Carla Carter (right) learns the correct way to perform a gastrostomy feeding from HISD Nurses Joan Maset (left) and Linda Hill (seated).

Codwell ES Nurse Carla Carter (right) learns the correct way to perform a gastrostomy feeding from HISD Nurses Joan Maset (left) and Linda Hill (seated).

Until this week, Nurse Carla Carter had never had to catheterize a student in the course of her duties at Codwell Elementary School. But she felt both confident and capable of doing so when the time came, thanks in part to the skills-update workshops offered each year by HISD’s Health & Medical Services department.

“You never know what’s going to come on campus,” explained Carter. “Each semester, you might get a child with a different condition than you had the one before. Today was a perfect example. I’m in my fifth year with HISD, but I never had to catheterize a student until now. Just this morning, we got a student I have to catheterize twice a day.”

At the refresher courses, school nurses observe demonstrations and practice performing a variety of invasive procedures, such as gastrostomy (tube) feedings, epinephrine injections, or tracheotomy care and suctioning. HISD nurses perform more than 300 of these procedures daily around the district.

“The training was very useful,” said Carter. “It’s perfect at the beginning of the year. What makes it even more meaningful is that it’s provided by our nurses, who are experts in that particular field, so they know what you deal with, because they do it every day.”

Part of the training includes a CPR/AED certification course, in which nurses practice the lifesaving skills they might need during a cardiac or respiratory emergency.

“Thankfully, CPR was not used much during the last school year,” added Kaiya Liddell, an outreach worker with Health & Medical Services Department. “Only one employee and one visitor (no students) needed it.”

During the 2013–2014 school year, HISD school nurses monitored 16,954 students with chronic medical conditions, performed medical procedures and treatments on 4,761 students, and assisted 343 pregnant and parenting students in obtaining medical care.

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