January 11, 2022

Caring for the well-being of 36,000 students districtwide and ensuring access to high-quality school health services is more crucial than ever before. IPSF is proud to continue to support the district’s comprehensive health and wellness initiatives, including IUSD’s professional school nurses, in generous partnership with grant funding from Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s Community Benefit Program awarded in January 2022. 

Hoag’s Community Benefit Program continues to focus on meeting the unique needs of Orange County residents with particular emphasis upon the disadvantaged and underserved.  

With more students coming back to campus for the 2021-22 school year, additional nursing support to triage complex student health and wellness needs are of critical importance. 

Professional school nurses contribute to the health of all IUSD students by providing general population care and prevention, as well as hospital-type nursing care to identified children during the school day. Nursing care facilitation includes treating students with special health conditions, referring students to mental health resource counselors, communicating with students, their families, and their medical providers, and training school employees in direct health care procedures such as tracheostomy suctioning and blood glucose monitoring.  

 Additionally, all K-12 students receive early diagnosis, intervention, and medical treatment by school nurses. Data collected from the district-wide health service database, year-end health services reports, and nurse logs are used to identify students with specific health concerns and those requiring specialized health care plans. K-12 students also receive education on disease prevention and common medical conditions. 

In addition to physical well-being, IUSD nurses are dedicated to ensuring students receive the social-emotional developmental counseling they need provided by Elementary Resource Counselors (ERC), who are specialists in social work and family psychology. School nurses identify students in need of 1:1 and small group counseling experiences that provide students support and skill-building for coping with family stressors, academic struggles, and personal issues. Should students need longer-term or more-intensive counseling services, the ERC Specialist can provide parents with resources for local counseling agencies or assist them with finding service provider specialists. 

In addition to addressing physical health concerns of students, a pre-pandemic student survey revealed that 17% of 7th grade students and 32% of 11th grade Irvine students reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that they stopped engaging in some normal activities. These percentages are anticipated to be dramatically higher after a year with many students attending some to most of their school days in remote learning, becoming further isolated from normal daily social interaction with their peers. 

By dedicating more onsite school nursing support hours to train school staff for health warning signs, triage students comprehensive health needs, treat immediate and short-term health emergencies, and refer students to mental health or specialized care, the most vulnerable students have a better holistic continuum of care thereby reducing school absences and further academic achievement gaps. 

IPSF and Hoag Community Benefit Program recognize the comprehensive and complex and evolving physical and mental health needs of students. In deep gratitude for the compassionate care they provide our students each day, we are so proud to advance support our amazing school nurses through the Students Access to Care Program.