October 18th, 2006
It’s very likely that by the time you graduate from Stuyvesant, you’ll probably have paid a visit to the nurse’s office. Maybe nothing serious—perhaps just minor symptoms such as a headache or an upset stomach. But once you’ve arrived, it won’t take long to realize that bandages, tampons and ice are the only things that the nurse is allowed to offer you.
When asked about the worst case she has ever dealt with, Ruth Debrio, head nurse at Stuyvesant said quite simply, “Nothing. Just a few broken bones- that’s about it.”
Debrio has been working as a school nurse for over twenty years. She recalls that, decades ago, school nurses were once allowed to administer aspirin to students. However, because of complaints from parents about side effects and the rise in allergies, the policy was changed. Now, the nurse’s responsibilities are limited to treating minor first-aid injuries, supervising intake of prescribed medication and taking down the information of students who wish to leave school early. Tampons are available for girls and there are two cots in the back of the office for students who wish to rest. Any serious cases are sent to the hospital.
While it’s true that there are rare side effects of common over-the-counter pain relievers, students should be allowed to access them when they are feeling unwell. Like the consent forms the administration sends out to freshmen parents for condom distribution at the beginning of the school year, the health department should also release forms to parents who would be required to obtain a doctor’s note. Parents could then consent to the freedom for their children to have access to over-the-counter medication such as Midol for menstrual cramps (a problem that might affect nearly half the student population), or aspirin or Tylenol for fever, pain or migraine headaches. In addition, antacids should be available for indigestion.
It’s understandable that the administration would be against such a notion in case of any complications such as side effects or overdose. However, the school would not have to take responsibility for any student’s complications as long as the parents had signed the form and the treatment was administered under the nurse’s supervision. In addition, all pg these forms of treatment could be given on a checklist for parents to review with their children. The treatment should only be administered under the conditions that the student had previously used the form of treatment without any complications and that the school would not be held accountable if any problems arise.
Since there simply isn’t anything the nurse can do for the majority of the students that visit her, many view a trip to the nurse’s office as just a necessary stop that has to be made in order to leave school early. A student should not have to curtail his or her academic