School nursing shortage in Richmond and Columbia counties - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

School nursing shortage in Richmond and Columbia counties

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Take his temperature, give her her medication, give him his medication, call her parents, check the lunch menu, take her temperature, administer his insulin; in an average day, school nurse Becky Quarles will see 40 students come through her office here at Langford Middle School.

"Every day is a different day, with different challenges and children with different needs," Nurse Quarles said.

Those children consider Nurse Quarles sort of a miracle healer.

"I sprained my wrist, she gave me some ice," said David Cobb, a middle school student at Langford. "I would say about 15 minutes later, I didn't feel the pain anymore."

Catering to the needs of more than 1,000 students, Nurse Quarles monitors the health of students at Langford Middle and Copeland Elementary School; traveling back and forth every other day.

"It is overwhelming because when you leave one school or the other, you're leaving them uncovered," Nurse Quarles said.

A state law was supposed to provide funding for there to be one school nurse for every 750 elementary students and every 1,500 for middle or high school students. Across Georgia, the current ratio is one school nurse for every 2,300 students. Those numbers are similar throughout Richmond and Columbia County schools.

"The main thing with any law that's passed is that it has to have funding that follows with it," said Columbia County Head School Nurse Lisa Whitlock. "And so far, as everyone knows, funding is a problem with education in the state of Georgia. So we're fortunate to have the school nurses that we do."

Whitlock said in Columbia County, every elementary school has a school nurse who is also responsible for a high school or middle school.

"I think any head nurse in a county would love to have a school nurse in every school," Whitlock said. "That would be a dream to be able to have that. Right now, the funding is not there for that."

Until that state funding trickles down to our area, school nurses like Nurse Quarles will continue providing as much support as she can to children she calls her own.

"They really do become yours in so many ways," Nurse Quarles said. "While you're at school, you're nurse mother."

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