Health care deficit causes nurse layoff

( ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla (WALA) – The Escambia County Health Department made an announcement Friday that will mean big changes for Escambia County school health care in the coming months.

The county is facing a budget deficit of more than $3 million.

Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said $1.8 million in cuts will come in the 2012-2013 school year.

“We have been in the fortunate position in Escambia school district where we have had two health care providers on every school campus, nurse and a health care technician. Because of the budget shortfall, we’ll have to make some cuts with employees,” Thomas said.

He said the reduction will mean a total of 42 nurses and 24 health technicians will lose their jobs.

The Escambia County Health Department said there will be 15 nurses, 7 of whom will travel between schools.

They said there will be 54 health technicians and 47 of them will be stationed so that every school will have one.

“We’ll divide the district in seven geographical regions, and they will serve all of those schools in those regions. So we have a little scaling back, but the core needs of students will continue to be met,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the school district actually increased its contribution $150,000 towards health care to make up some of the deficit.

“Most school districts do not have a nurse and a health technician on every campus. That was the best practice, and now we have to step up and do the best we can with the resources we have,” said Thomas.

The Escambia County Health Department said health education classes as well as ninth grade Body Mass Index screenings may have to be cut as well.

They also said that at most schools, a nurse will not be on campus to respond to emergencies, oversee medication administration and manage student illnesses.

They said they are working with the Florida Department of Health’s Labor Relation’s Office to develop a retention and layoff plan over the next few months.