For parents, there can often be a lot of anxiety sending kids off on the school bus. It's even more of an issue for families who have children with medical needs. Our Katie Gibas spoke with one family about what they do to prepare their Type 1 Diabetic and his school for the year ahead.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- For Patty Palladino, summer was over a while ago.
"Summer to me, really, is only July because when August hits, I have to start thinking about the kits I have to prepare for every classroom he goes in. I prepare a little binder for his teacher, so she can get to know a little bit about what Type 1 Diabetes is," said Palladino.
Palladino's son Frankie is a Type 1 Diabetic. Every year, she prepares a kit with information, snacks and a life-saving glucagon pen for low blood sugar emergencies. Tuesday was Frankie's first day of school.
"It's scary because you've had control all summer long and you have to trust that the people who are in charge of him in school are going to know what to do in the case of an emergency, so it's an absolute act of faith to put him on the bus in the morning," said Palladino.
But one thing that gives Palladino a little peace of mind is knowing a Certified Diabetes Educator comes to Frankie's school every year.
"Early on, they didn't really know a lot about diabetes. Frankie was the first Type 1 in his school building for a number of years I think. And Type 1 Diabetes technology and how you infuse your insulin or inject your insulin is always changing. It's a learning curve for everybody, but we have to keep communicating and the key to keeping diabetics safe in school is definitely having the whole faculty educated," said Palladino.
Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE, who is a Certified Diabetes Educator, added, "We really need to focus on those high blood sugars as well because that affects them long term. It affects them even during the school day during test taking. So we really need to focus on those three things, overall understanding, dealing with low blood sugars and dealing with high blood sugars."
Right now, legislation is in the works in New York State that would allow non-medical staff at schools to be trained to provide diabetes care, as long as the training is from a licensed health care provider. The bill also allows older children to perform their own blood glucose checks, administer insulin and treat their blood sugar fluctuations without having to go to the nurse’s office.
This year, Frankie's district, Fayetteville-Manlius, was one of the first in the area to pass a new policy. It allows trained staff, in the absence of a nurse, to inject glucagon as a life-saving measure in the event of severe low blood sugar.
The New York State Department of Health is one of the few in the country that will pay a Certified Diabetes Educator to come into the school and train staff.
Proposed NYS Legislation
New York State Legislation