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City Schools, Kaleida Finalize School Nurses Partnership

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo public school children are finally receiving health services. The Buffalo Public School District and Kaleida Health formed a partnership to return nurses to cty schools.

Kaleida is helping to provide nursing services at 60 uffalo schools. Under the new partnership, 18 Catholic schools will also receive nursing services.

The health program was cut at the end of the last school year during the Erie County budget crisis. But Melva Visher, director of school health from Women and Children's hospital, says Kaleida has added 32 registered nurses, LPNs and medical assistants to the program.

"We will have a nurse for a portion of the day in every school, once our expansion is fully operational, which will be in just a few weeks," Visher said.

Students who need to take daily medication during their school day will also be assisted. Visher says 15 schools will now have full-time health care services. The other schools will have part-time nursing care.

"They will work in teams with the registered nurses," Visher explained. "So there will be a team of nurses that are responsible for geographic regions and there will be a number of schools within that region."

But Schools Superintendent James Williams says this is only a temporary fix. He said the district is seeking state aid for nurses for the next school year.

"I plan to have conversations to hopefully get a line item in the state budget so next year we can have a full time nurse in all of our schools in Buffalo," Williams said. "In order to improve the quality of education, you need a healthy youngster. You need a youngster that is prepared to perform in classes. We need a focused youngster, so health is very important."

The district is spending $1.4 million for this school year to provide the nursing program, but funding was already approved in the current city school spending plan.