Beach-Vitale Bill to Protect Medically Fragile Children in School Passes Both Houses in New Jersey

New legislation sponsored by Senators Jim Beach and Joseph F. Vitale that would protect medically fragile students and allow parents a choice in care providers for their children during the school day was unanimously approved by both the New Jersey State Senate and the General Assembly on March 16, 2012. The bill is now heading to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

“Parents of medically fragile students provide constant care and attention at home and deserve to have that same level of care while their children are in school,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden. “Currently, school districts can contract with any nursing company or vendor whether or not they are trained to handle the student’s unique health needs. It is imperative that this policy be corrected to provide both a consistency of care for the child and sense of ease for the parents that their child will be safe at school.”

The bill, S375 / A1838, would require that a provider of clinical nursing services to a medically fragile student must meet the same certification standards that are required by the Department of Human Services for Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare program clinical nurses.

Additionally, the bill would 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.

A medically fragile student is a school-aged child who suffers from a life-threatening medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, muscular dystrophy, or another neurological disease and therefore requires more individualized and continuous care than that provided by a school nurse.

The benefit of having the parents choose their nursing agency is significant because the nurses come to the family’s home first thing in the morning to assess the child and ensure they can attend school, in addition to performing all nursing interventions that are required to proficiently care for the child. The fact that the nurse is spending time in the family’s home, while caring for the child, points to the fact that the family should have input into deciding which company will provide the private duty nursing to their child.

Newborn Nurses provides highly skilled registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to infants, children, and adults of all ages. We are CHAP accredited and provide extraordinary service to the families we serve.