TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Jim Beach and Joseph F. Vitale that will protect medically-fragile students and allow parents a choice in care providers for their children during the school day has been signed into law.
“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,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden. “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. This is was a dangerous policy that has now thankfully been corrected.”
The law, S-375, will require 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 the parent or guardian of the medically fragile student to choose the provider of the clinical nursing services as long as it would not increase costs for the school district.
“Parents are often the best advocates of their children – particularly those who care for a seriously ill or disabled child,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “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 and who 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.”
The law evolved from a case in Collingswood where 9-year-old Isaiah Sutter’s family ran into problems with his attending nurses at school.
A medically-fragile student is a school-aged child who suffers from a life-threatening medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorder or another neurological disease and therefore requires more individualized and continuous care than that provided by a school nurse.