East Texas school district blasts off school healthcare initiative with children's clinic

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Back in the day, school nurses weren't allowed to give kids any types of medication. But now, times have changed.

Last year, Diboll Independent School District started a new health initiative with the Children's Clinic of Lufkin. This year, the program is starting to really take off.

"The Diboll healthcare initiative started when we built the new school and as we were building it we were thinking about whether we wanted to add a clinic as part of that," said Gary Martel, the superintendent for Diboll ISD. "One of the main things is we want to make sure that we get students back from any type of health issue as quick as we can to get them back in school."

The initiative not only puts 26 doctors on speed dial for the school district, but has implemented new policies for the nurses. Nurses, with consent from parents, are now allowed to give students over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, and Motrin for daily aches and pains.

They can also have guidance when it comes to emergency situations like asthma attacks, anaphylactic reaction or extreme low blood sugar.

This way nurses can administer the proper medications and stabilize the student until medical care can make it to the school campus.

"What we wanted to do with this health initiative was to make sure we had a direct line with over 26 doctors, really. Dr. Fidone and Dr. Glass have been awesome as we've developed this model or this outside-the-box thinking," Martel said. "That's really not costing anything if you think about it because the outside-the-box thinking has allowed us to have a direct line to them so we have certain orders so our nurses can give certain prescriptions, dosages, certain things to students because they have standing orders."

Martel says this is a great program because sometimes in those emergency situations it's too late before the parents can arrive on campus.

"I think it's a win-win situation for us when you look at it. Our nurses have helped our healthcare at our schools at each of our campuses. It's allowed us to be proactive, instead of reactive to every situation that comes up," Martel said. "It helps the parents in a great way because we can do things that they normally have to leave work for or to take off for. I think the whole idea behind the initiative was to help parents, help students, help the school district."

The Children's Center of Lufkin has even agreed to have extended clinic hours saying in a press release it's "an effort to accommodate acute and well exams of our patients and our practices. As with acute illnesses, if a student in our practice needs a wellness or pre-participation exam, we will do our best to see the student on the day requested or the next day."

They also cite that the program has helped in several different ways, including: "developing direct and immediate communication between school nurses and community physicians, assisting the nursing staff, assisting school nursing personnel in the development…for children suffering from chronic illnesses including asthma, seizures, diabetes..., expanding access care for students with acute illnesses, expanding currently restricted access to care for children with mental health issues, and providing anticipatory guidance for common, often vaccine-preventable illnesses."

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