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12-year-old girl dies of asthma; father blames school staff cuts


philadelphia student dies of asthma

I worked at public schools for years, and a common sight would be a student stepping away to use an inhaler. Occasionally, a kid would forget to bring one, or they would lose theirs, and I would notice them sitting on the floor gasping for breath as school staff scrambled to track down family members or the school nurse who could quickly provide one.

It was always a disturbing and tense scenario, one that I could never shake off, one that is stuck in my memory forever, one that made adults and students alike feel helpless as we tried to comfort the panicky, choking child trying to cope until help arrived.

Twelve-year-old Philadelphia sixth-grader Laporshia Massey had an asthma attack at school and died later that day.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, there was no nurse on campus, nor was there a trained medical professional to recognize how serious her symptoms were. So they did what we found ourselves doing, they told her to try to remain calm. The difference was, we were fully staffed and could respond quickly and efficiently.

Laporshia was denied the attention and care she needed, so by the time she was taken to the hospital, it was too late. She lost her life.

Via Philadelphia City Paper:

Sixth-grader Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications, according to her father, who says he rushed her to the emergency room soon after she got home from school on the afternoon of Sept. 25. He says Laporshia had begun to feel ill earlier that day at Bryant Elementary School, where a nurse is on staff only two days a week. This day was not one of those days. 

Daniel Burch, Laporshia’s father, is angry and wants to know whether Philadelphia’s resource-starved school district failed to save his daughter’s life.

“If she had problems throughout the day, why … didn’t [the school] call me sooner?” asks Burch... “Why,” he asks, “didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital?”

Burch's fianceé, Sherri Mitchell, got a call from school during which Laporshia told her, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Neither Burch nor Mitchell realized how serious the situation was, thinking that a trained professional at the elementary school would diagnose her.

When Laporshia went to the teacher, she was told that there was "no nurse and just to be calm.” Once school let out, a school staff member drove Laporshia home.

When she got there, her father immediately gave her medication and rushed her to the hospital.

She collapsed in the car, at which point Burch flagged down a passing ambulance in the middle of traffic. Burch says his daughter later died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [...]

The District source believes that Laporshia’s life could have been saved if the school had responded appropriately to her illness. “If they had called rescue, she would still be here today,” the source said.

The Philadelphia school district has been underfunded; Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts have let 3,000 staff members go since June. Per the City Paper article, after the initial cuts, a nurse specifically warned that "other staff were not competent to deal with asthmatic students in her absence."

Sadly, the nurse was right.


Obama plan funds nurse visits to new moms


It was another campaign promise that the President is living up to, for those who are keeping score.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama touted the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), founded in the late 1970s by psychologist David Olds.

"This program saves money," Mr. Obama said in 2007. "It raises healthy babies and creates better parents. It reduced childhood injuries and unintended pregnancies, increased father involvement and women's employment, reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children's school readiness. And it produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program.

"I will expand the Nurse-Family Partnership to provide at-home nurse visits for up to 570,000 first-time mothers each year," Mr. Obama promised. "We can do this. Our God is big enough for that."

The Obama administration kept its word. Its first budget called for a home-visitation program for new mothers costing $8.6 billion over 10 years. The home-visit program is now embedded in health care reform, costing $750 million over five years in the House bill and $1.5 billion in the Senate bill. The bills are being merged.

But, as usual, the fundies read scary things into a program that should be as non-controversial as telling someone to brush their teeth-

The program could increase "matriarchal dominance" in poor neighborhoods already awash with absent-father homes, said Gordon E. Finley, a psychology professor at Florida International University who writes on gender roles.

Most nurses are women, he said, so it would mean more women advising women, without necessarily considering the fathers. And because nursing is a female-dominated sector, the program means more jobs for women, but not men.

The program may bring "biases of the medical community into the home," said E. Christian Brugger, an ethicist and senior fellow at Culture of Life Foundation. The medical community, for instance, has a bias against large families - women in maternity wards who have delivered a second child are "routinely asked" whether they want to be sterilized, he said.

Someone sounds a little afeared of the women folk, don't they?


Greatest Healthcare? Has Anyone Tried Calling for a Nurse When Hospitalized?


By GottaLaff

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash, via my pal Mark Karlin:

BuzzFlash wrote about a study awhile back in which the U.S. was ranked 17th in the quality of its healthcare. The fact is most of the Western nations with single payer systems have better healthcare at a cheaper cost. In Canada, which the right wing media shills refer to as a nation with "socialized" medicine, residents live longer than Americans. [...]

But all that aside, we are baffled by the notion that opponents of health care reform claim; that the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world.

Has anyone tried calling for a nurse while hospitalized recently? [...]

We love nurses -- and the California's Nurses Union is one of the most progressive labor organizations in the nation, for example -- but most hospitals have cut nursing staffing levels way below comfort level and health safety in the U.S. It's not the fault of the nurses; it's a failed system of care.

That's because hospital bean counters are cutting back basic care to ensure profits or fat salaries for the administrators and the specialized physicians. [...]

Healthcare now is about profit, not so much care. [...]

As a result, we just keep falling further behind in healthcare, as we continue to press that nurse call button, with no response.

Please read the whole post here.