After parent complaints, Seton sends more nurses into Austin schools


Highlights

Seton now will have 73 nurses providing care at Austin schools, an additional 33 nurses from earlier this year

AISD more than 20 years ago eliminated registered nurses from every elementary campus to save money.

Parents pushed back against the move toward telemedicine, urging officials to bring back more nurses.

After pushback from parents and nurses who voiced concern over student safety, Seton Healthcare Family announced Wednesday it will pay up to $1.8 million to increase the number of nurses the Austin school district has on its campuses.

The district contracts with Seton for student health services, this year paying $7.1 million, which includes mental health services. Seton this year reduced the number of registered nurses on campuses by nine to 41, but planned to nearly double the number of health assistants to 80. That meant the nurses spent less time on campuses, had less interaction with students and had less direct supervision of the health assistants, which some nurses said could be a liability.

Seton now will add another 33 nurses to Austin’s schools, bringing the total to at least 73. The remaining 58 health assistants already hired will remain in place.

“We’ve heard parents’ concerns and we value their input,” said Kristi Henderson, who leads the AISD student health services program at Seton, along with Medical Director Dr. Mark Shen. “We also know that RNs are a trusted source for parents. We aim to bring in more of these trusted experts into schools so they, along with parents, will help develop a long-term, sustainable plan to help care for Austin’s children.”

Previously, secondary schools had full time nurses but other nurses split their time among multiple elementary campuses. This year, the elementary nurses were charged with covering even more schools remotely, as health assistants were instead assigned to the elementary schools.

The change included a greater reliance on telemedicine, with nurses providing care to some students via videoconferencing software. But the change also meant fewer nurses for the district’s youngest students.

Parents were alarmed by the change, made without formal notification to families, and urged district and Seton officials to reverse it.

By putting more nurses in schools, each large elementary and middle school will have a full-time nurse, while medium-sized elementaries and middle schools will share one nurse and one health assistant. Small schools will have full-time health assistants in each school and a shared nurse.

The Austin district more than 20 years ago eliminated registered nurses at every elementary campus to save money. The district has since contracted with Seton, which decides how to provide those services.

“Austin ISD has trusted Seton to deliver high-quality care for students,” said Edmund Oropez, the district’s chief officer for teaching and learning. “We trust their expertise to do what is best for our students’ health.”

Parent Kelly Tarun, who has fought to bring nurses back to the campuses, said she is grateful for the improvement, but more must be done.

“This stop-gap measure, while it shows they’re listening and are hearing our concerns as parents, is not a long term solution and can’t be sustained,” Tarun said regarding this year’s $1.8 million investment by Seton.

Tarun said many parents, who weren’t around two decades ago when the district made the decision to cut nurses, didn’t know that the health assistants are not licensed medical health professionals.

The district, along with Seton, will create an advisory group to provide input on a long-term health services plan.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian at Stassney, Congress
Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian at Stassney, Congress

A driver hit and critically injured a pedestrian in South Austin on Thursday night, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics responded at 10:02 p.m. to Stassney Lane and South Congress Avenue, EMS officials said.  The pedestrian, estimated to be in his 40s, was taken to St. David South Austin Medical Center with life-threatening injuries...
H-E-B recalling olives that may contain glass, store says
H-E-B recalling olives that may contain glass, store says

H-E-B is recalling certain store-brand olives that may contain glass inside, the store said Thursday evening.  The recalled product, 10-ounce glass jars of H-E-B’s “Ode to Olives Sliced Salad Olives,” has a best by date of Nov. 3, 2019, the store said in a news release.  The store issued the recall after customers who had...
Reports: Victim’s family sues parents of accused Santa Fe school shooter
Reports: Victim’s family sues parents of accused Santa Fe school shooter

The family of one of the victims in last week’s Santa Fe High School shooting is suing the parents of the accused shooter, according to two Houston-area TV news stations.  The parents of 17-year-old Chris Stone have filed suit against the parents of accused shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, KTRK-TV reported. They argue in the suit...
Intense, tearful meeting with shooting survivors ends Abbott gun talks
Intense, tearful meeting with shooting survivors ends Abbott gun talks

Gov. Greg Abbott ended three days of gun violence discussions Thursday with an intense, sometimes tearful session devoted to survivors and victims of mass shootings in Texas. Many in the state Capitol room attended Santa Fe High School or had children who were there when a gunman killed eight students and two teachers last week, and while there was...
Democratic governor candidate Valdez owes $12,000 in property taxes
Democratic governor candidate Valdez owes $12,000 in property taxes

Lupe Valdez, who on Tuesday won the Democratic nomination for governor, owes more than $12,000 in property taxes on seven different properties, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday. Valdez’s campaign spokesman Juan Bautista Dominguez said that the former Dallas County sheriff does owe the money and said she is paying it back. “Sheriff...
More Stories