School Nurse Caring for More Diabetic Students - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

School Nurse Caring for More Diabetic Students

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Kennewick school nurses treat students with diabetes daily. And now they say they're seeing an increasing number of young diabetics.

In fact, most of the care they give is to diabetic students.

"The first ten years, I didn't have diabetics and then I got one and then two and then three and then it has multiplied," said Jeanne Bakker, nurse at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School.

Over Bakker's twenty years as a school nurse, she's seen a change in the number of students with diabetes.

Diabetic students at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School need extra care with shots or monitoring devices to check their blood sugar levels.

At Cascade Elementary, nurse Cyndi Donley says she's seen a change too.

"Started the beginning of last year with three brand new kids with diabetes. This year we have another one brand new to diabetes. We don't have the answers to why that's increasing, but we do see it in the faces of the children we've seen every year," said Donley.

All of the diabetic students at each school have type one diabetes, which means their body no longer produces insulin and it's not related their weight.

There are many theories about why nationwide statistics show there's an increase. Nurses don't know the answer, but it continues to be most of the care they provide.

"I would say we see more diabetics or provide more diabetic care with nurses than probably any other health condition in the district because it's a daily basis," Bakker said.

Nurses help students monitor their blood sugar levels with charts including lists of foods and how many carbs are in each item.

Children are taught to administer their medicine independently, but the staff always pays extra attention to how diabetics are feeling.

"Diabetes is not only at lunch time. Diabetes can happen after P.E. They have a low blood sugar. They need that monitoring and support all the time," Donley said.

School nurses follow individual plans from doctors for each diabetic student.

Elementary students check in with nurses multiple times a day, but by high school most diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels independently.