by: Paige Hansen Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For the first time, every Charlotte-Mecklenburg School will have a full-time nurse this school year.
The health department said nurses' roles will range from helping with chronic conditions to being the "public health feet on the ground," according to Mecklenburg County Health Department director Dr. Marcus Plescia.
County commissioners provided the funding to hire the nurses. CMS says 109 nurses will be in its schools come Monday and the health department says it still has 35 positions to fill.
Carrie Merner is a parent of two children who attend CMS schools. Merner's children, plus an estimated 17,000 CMS students have asthma. Merner's youngest son, Grant also has life-threatening food allergies.
"There's a lot of fear involved when you send off your child," Merner said.
Merner showed Eyewitness News the "spy belt" her son wears every day with an Auvi-Q, an EpiPen alternative inside. Merner said her son has had to use it multiple times before.
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"I know it saved my life," Grant Merner said. "Yeah, it did save your life," Merner said in response.
Plescia said parents like Merner with children like Grant helped build support for a school nurse in every school.
"At all times the schools system and kids will know there's a nurse there in case they need it," Plescia said.
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When Merner's students go back to school Monday, they'll still have a shared nurse on campus, not a full-time one, so she says, she'll still be anxious.
"It's probably not first on our mind to get our children new school clothes," Merner said about parents like her who have students like hers. "We are in line at the pharmacy getting their EpiPens ready, their quick relief inhalers."
Merner said a full-time nurse will make parents feel regardless of whether their children have chronic conditions.
With the new hires, CMS said it will have one nurse for every 895 students.
Plescia said the goal ratio is one nurse to every 750 students.
CMS said it decides which schools get a nurse first based on the number of chronic health conditions at a school and the "complexity of the health care at the school," according to a district spokeswoman.
Visit our special Back to School guide on wsoctv.com for links to all area school districts, CMS calendar, healthy lunch tips and more.
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