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Visiting School Nurse Program

Summary 
  • Need: Students in rural communities lacked access to healthcare services, resulting in poor school performance.
  • Intervention: The Visiting School Nurse program was created to improve access to health care for 6,000 students in Fulton County, Illinois.
  • Results: After the three years of the grant-funded program, the program continues to serve one school district and staff with a variety of health services and educational campaigns.
Description

Rural children and their families often have difficulty accessing regular healthcare services. For children and adolescents access issues contribute to health problems, which further leads to school absenteeism.

In 1998, the Fulton County Health Department started the Visiting School Nurse program in an effort to increase access to care for school-aged children. The program provided health screenings, health education, and prevention campaigns to 6,000 students in grades K-12 in eight school districts throughout Fulton County, Illinois.

This program was active 1998-2001 with support from a Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant. However, through 2017, one school district in Fulton County, Schuyler Industry School District #5, continues serving four schools by employing two full-time school nurses, one RN and one LPN. This school district continues with RN and LPN staffing model. Funding for these nurses comes from district funds.

Services offered

The original Visiting School Nurse program was coordinated by four full-time registered nurses, and a full-time health educator, employed by the health department. The nurses and health educator provided:

  • Immunizations
  • Health record compliance checks
  • CPR and first aid training
  • Chronic disease management
  • Infectious disease and injury control
  • Parent and staff workshops
  • Classroom health education
  • Head lice education and screenings

The program also helped to develop a "Prevention Coalition" to address four key public health challenges in the schools:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Violence
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

As part of the Visiting School Nurse program, the county health department created an STD screening and treatment clinic for both youth and adults.

Results

The original Visiting School Nurse Program resulted in:

  • Hepatitis B vaccinations for 2454 students and 1001 staff
  • Case management for 1412 students with chronic illnesses
  • CPR and first aid training for 770 students and 356 staff
  • * Cholesterol and blood pressure screenings and mammograms for 1,199 school personnel
  • Head lice training for 39 school personnel and volunteers
  • Over 15,000 head lice checks
  • Work shop attendance by nearly 150 parents
  • 1558 classroom presentations on various health topics attended by 46,748 students and staff
Replication

The coordinators of the Visiting School Nurse Program indicate a key to success is open, frequent, and high-quality communication occurring between all involved agencies. Others wishing to replicate this program should ensure all relevant groups are involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating the program.

Contact Information
Nita Carey, RN, School Nurse
Schuyler Industry School District #5
217.322.4311 Ext. 411
ncarey@sid5.com
Topics
Children and youth
Health screening
Nurses
Public health
Schools
Sexual and reproductive health
Substance abuse
Teen pregnancy
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
States served
Illinois
Date added
July 13, 2005
Date updated or reviewed
August 21, 2017

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.