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Health and Medicine
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Fewer Oregon Students Have Access To A School Nurse

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File photo of Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.

According to a new report from a state task force, the ratio of students to school nurses has more than doubled in the past five years in Oregon.

In 2009, Oregon lawmakers set a goal for schools to have one nurse for every 750 students. But it wasn't a requirement. A legislatively-created task force found that since then, the ratio of nurses to students has gotten larger every year.

By 2015, each nurse had an average caseload of more than 4,500 students. About 40 percent of Oregon school districts don't provide school nursing services at all.

Nina Fekaris, a nurse in the Beaverton School District, chairs the task force.

"When school districts are strapped, and we have more kids and need more buildings, they need more teachers, so often times school nurses are one of the first employees that are cut,” Fekaris said.

Fekaris said she and other school nurses are spread so thin that a lot of their time is spent training non-medical school personnel such as secretaries how to do things like administer insulin injections.