Lawmaker on diabetes care in schools: ‘Don’t wait until somebody dies’

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-15 13:29:23-05

RICHMOND, Va.(WTVR) -- Lily Waeher, an eight-year-old from Chesterfield, has type one diabetes.  Last year, her parents pulled her out of public school when the nurses aide at her school made two potentially fatal mistakes while administering her care, her parents said.

Wednesday, Lily testified in front of a House Sub-Committee on education in support of a bill that would help students like her across Virginia.

House Bill 134 is aimed at strengthening diabetes care within public schools, proponents say.

The bill would allow parents to designate a diabetes care aide within their child's school to administer care when a nurse or physician is not present on school grounds.

According to nursing advocates, many school divisions in Virginia do not have registered nurses on site every school day.

HB 134 would also require "delegated care aides" to receive in-depth diabetes care training, provide training for all school employees on how to spot diabetic emergencies, and increase the number of school employees trained in diabetes care.

According to advocates of the legislation, more than 3,300 students in Virginia suffer from diabetes.  Supporters of the bill are not holding their breath, though.

"I got to be honest with you, I don't have a whole lot of faith," said Lily's mother, Catherine Martin when asked if she think the legislation will pass.  "It's going to take a death.  It's going to take something like 'Brenden's bill' to get any attention, and then they'll pay lip service to it."

"God forbid, but if some child dies of diabetic shock in the schools, I'll have 140 co-patrons of this legislation," said Delegate Mark Cole to the sub-committee Thursday.  "Don't wait until somebody dies."

There are opponents to the bill; many of them school leaders from across the state who.  Some voiced their opposition Wednesday.

Opponents said the training that would be required is very specific and difficult to implement.  They added the cost of training and hiring new staff to accommodate the legislation would be high.

"If this bill passed, we would have to go hire new personnel if we could not find somebody to do it," said Tom Smith with the School Superintendents Association.  "Our concern is when [well intentioned bills] go forward often there is not funding to implement them on a continual basis."

Thursday, the House Sub-Committe on education decided to pass-by HB 134, which means they took no action and can discuss it at later work sessions.