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School board hears concerns over shortage of nurses in Burbank schools

April 15, 2014|By Kelly Corrigan,

The Burbank Unified school board offered few assurances to the district’s head nurse Lenora Aguilera last week when she asked school officials to consider hiring three more certificated school nurses to add to the six that currently serve 15,200 students.

Along with Aguilera voicing her concerns about more nursing staff, Bret Harte Elementary Principal Sheari Taylor described a recent Friday in which she stepped into her school’s office and saw several students lined up sitting on a bench.

One student with a migraine was seeing flashes of light. A diabetic student needed to have their blood sugar monitored. And another student had just vomited into a trash can, Taylor said.


Meanwhile, the nurse assigned to Bret Harte was helping students at another Burbank school.

“Right then, I know that all heck has broken loose,” Taylor said.

Then, Taylor received word over her radio that another student, after falling on the playground, suffered a leg injury. That’s when Taylor rushed to the playground with a wheelchair, only to return to the office to hear a second-grader tell her, ‘My heart hurts. I can’t breathe,’ Taylor recalled. In the end, though, the student’s ailment wasn’t serious.

“I was doing exactly what I always do and what all the other principals do and office staff do. We just roll with it, but it is like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’…it is major triage time,” she said.

Aguilera also shared with the board that more than 1,625 Burbank students have asthma, 144 deal with seizures, nearly 470 have allergies and more than 760 are on various medications. Another 112 students require EpiPens.

Also, nearly 40 students have Type 1 diabetes and 1,610 have other health issues which may involve them recovering from cancer treatments or other ailments, Aguilera said.

She and five other school nurses divide their time among Burbank’s 20 campuses.

“I would like to pose a question,” she said to the school board. “What will it take to have additional school nurses added for the benefit for our students? How much liability is the district willing to assume and at what cost? We have brought our concerns, and again I ask that you make the right decision to hire additional credentialed school nurses.”

She added that she doesn’t think the school district is meeting the students’ needs. “I just cannot stress that enough,” she said.

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