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Health

Bill Would Allow Schools to Administer Medication Without Nurses

Maine parents caring for epileptic children gathered in Augusta Monday to support a bill that would allow a school administrative unit to permit trained nonmedical employees to provide emergency medication to epileptic students if requested by a parent or guardian.

Rep. Justin Chenette, a Saco Democrat, says many school districts find it difficult to keep registered nurses on staff to deal with emergencies.

Chenette says his bill offers the parents of epileptic children some hope. He says he's been increasingly frustrated by the lack of solutions offered by those who oppose the proposal.

"All I've heard is excuse after excuse for passing the buck," he says. "It's always somebody else's problem until the circle comes back around again and no one steps up to the plate. Well, it's all well and dandy until it's your child dead on the 6 o'clock news."

But Teresa Merrill, president of the Maine Association of School Nurses, says school districts would be assuming significant risks by allowing employees who aren't medically licensed to administer medications to students.

"Although other personnel may be employed to assist the registered professional nurse in the performance of nursing tasks, such personnel cannot safely be used as a substitute for the registered professional nurse," she says.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation of New England, there are 13,000 people in Maine who have epilepsy.