Improving health education and health care access services

During the last school year, more than 100 school-aged children came to the Emergency Department due to asthma complications. Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital will be working to improve the health of students in area communities, specifically those suffering from asthma, through a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.
“Our mission is to assist with asthma through SBA’s School Nurse Navigation program and the HRSA Rural Health Care Services Outreach program funded by the grant,” said Pam Cartwright, RN, BSN, SBA Director of Community Services.
SBA will be implementing specific strategies and evidenced-based models to improve health education and health care access services for students in rural school districts and community members of Butler County. They will begin by partnering with El Dorado, Augusta and Douglass schools.
“We will be working with partners like Dr. Iram Sirajuddin, SBA Medical Group – Allergist / Immunologist, and KU Medical Center to benefit students with asthma and develop Asthma Action Plans and Asthma Emergency Action Plans to prevent the triggers that cause asthma attacks,” Cartwright said.
SBA received $569,767, which will be distributed over three years. A portion of these dollars will be allocated toward the salary of the School Nurse Navigator and the telemedicine equipment for each partnering school district. SBA will use the already established eSusanB telemedicine application to provide school nurse visits in combination with education.
“The goal will be to help teachers, parents and the communities recognize the symptoms of asthma,” Cartwright said. “If the school nurse is unavailable or not at the school, staff can make a phone call or face-to-face visit with the SBA school nurse navigator.”
Through the grant, the school nurse navigator will travel to the schools each week, spending one day a week at each of the schools as support and offering training and education, as well as seeing students.
The hospital will be placing technology in each of the schools before the next school year, and there is a school nurse conference this summer that the nurse navigator will be attending.
They also are partnering with the Kansas Health Department, School Nurse Advisory Council and Butler County Health Department.
To evaluate the successes of the program, they will be tracking students’ academic scores and attendance records to see if they improve as asthma conditions are controlled and students miss less school due to illnesses.
In the future, the program will be expanded to other chronic diseases common for children, like diabetes. It also will be expanded to other rural schools in the county.
The vision of SBA is for the School Nurse Navigator to become the central point for coordinating communication with all care team members, to ensure that community students receive quality care, and to assist patients, caregivers and families in “bridging gaps” within the health care system for many