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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Baker Bill Increases Safety, Convenience for Diabetic Students

HARRISBURG – In order to ensure diabetic students have the greatest access to care when at school or school-related activities, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) has authored legislation approved by the state House to allow for the optional training of school employees in diabetes care and management who are not licensed health care providers.

“We have thousands of Pennsylvania school children who are dealing with diabetes and, unfortunately, there is not always a school nurse available to help students monitor their diabetes and handle any emergencies that could arise,” said Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee. “With the high number of students with diabetes, it just makes sense to permit schools to have volunteers trained to help students monitor their blood glucose and administer treatment.”

House Bill 1625 would have the parent or guardian of the student provide the school with written authorization from the student’s health care provider consistent with the school’s health services policies. The legislation would also allow, with written permission, students who are capable of self-managing their diabetes to be permitted to do so.

Baker noted the lack of availability of school nurses in every school building as one of the reasons for his authorship of the bill. “In Pennsylvania the Public School Code requires a school nurse-to-students ratio of 1 to 1,500. With that kind of ration, the burden of health care management can become overwhelming and students could be put needlessly at risk due to lack of a licensed health care provider being present and available,” said Baker. “This bill allows greater flexibility and convenience for care that will help ensure students’ safety and help students more quickly in the absence of a school nurse.”

Similar legislation has already been signed into law in 31 states and Washington, D.C.

“A trained school nurse is always the optimal person to help students manage their diabetes while at school, but the reality is that a school nurse cannot cover every school building at once so it makes sense for schools to have the option of a volunteer trained to help students in such circumstances,” said Baker.

House Bill 1625 has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the U.S. Department of Education.

House Bill 1625 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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