Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Medical Care in Schools: Is There a Right Side? - 7-8-09 Editorial

Most residents who have been keeping up with the news are at least in some part familiar with the discussion about administering medical care to students in the Mahomet-Seymour school district.

Depending on which side you sit on, it is an easy answer. You either believe that the medical care a child receives while in school is acceptable so long as the person performing the actions is trained properly by a professional or you believe that the only person who should be treating a medical issue concerning your child is a medical professional.

However, which side of the argument is one that proposes the most appropriate course of action?

On the one hand, you have teachers and teacher's aides that are being asked to do things like administering catheters to students who a typical citizen would view as requiring special care. Some of these teachers and aides may not be willing to complete these tasks because they either do not feel comfortable or qualified enough to do them or they don’t feel that their job description is specific enough on the issue.

On the other hand, you have students who need an education and the help throughout the day that a parent would typically provide at home. A parent (or parents) that probably has some sort of training in administering the care of a catheter or a similar procedure.

So becomes the argument: Should an educator be put into a position of possibly doing something that he or she is not comfortable with to provide for a child’s well-being or should we look at it as “if they are shown how to do it, there is no reason they can’t?”

I suppose the answer to the question is, how much headache is the district willing to put up with and for how long?

The popular choice among many residents is to say that a medical professional or a person educated in medical practices should be the only person to handle in-school procedures on children.

Either that, or the incoming teachers and aides to the district should have some sort of training experience in handling situations such as administering a catheter or executing basic care to children.

Another side of this that may come as a need is the wording of the job description for teachers and teacher aides, which states that they are to do “other duties” as specified by the administration or designee.

If there is to be a solution reached in this matter, perhaps some of the language that allows for the issue to be continuously set aside should be examined and dealt with.

Finally, there is one important detail about this issue that seems to either be overlooked or used as the reason for discussing it: We must make sure that when all is said and done, that the decision handed down is in the best interest of the children that it will affect.

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