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Protecting Jersey’s Medically Fragile Kids At School

Jersey has a new law that’s designed to protect medically fragile students – and give parents greater choice in selecting care providers for their kids during the school day.

Special Needs Children
Flickr User Honza Soukup

The law requires that a provider of clinical nursing services to a medically-fragile student meet the same certification standards that are required by the Department of Human Services for Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare program clinical nurses.

Additionally, the law will allow for parents to choose the provider of the clinical nursing services, as long as it would not increase costs for the school district.

“Parents of students with serious health conditions, and who need constant care and attention should be confident that the care their child is receiving at school is at least comparable to the care that they receive at home,” says State Senator Jim Beach, one of the sponsors of the legislation, “without any regulations requiring school districts throughout the state to contract with nursing companies and vendors that are properly trained to deal with the unique health needs of these particular children, we were allowing them to receive inadequate care.”

State Senator Joe Vitale, who chairs the State Senate Health Committee, agrees.

 “Previously, when these parents sent their medically-fragile children to school they had to give up the control of care to a nurse or medical professional who they had no choice in hiring” says Vitale, “the person may not have fully understood or been trained to deal with the special medical needs and health risks of their child…by allowing the parents to choose the nurse who will be with their child during the school day, we will provide consistency of care for this child and provide parents with a sense of ease that their child is not at serious risk at school.”

A medically-fragile student is one who suffers from a life-threatening medical condition, like cerebral palsy, seizure disorder or another neurological disease – and needs more individualized and continuous care than what is typically provided by a school nurse.

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