BC schools: More parents say kids will not get critical medication in schools after policy change

More BC parents are coming forward saying a bureaucratic change by the province means their children are no longer eligible to receive potentially life-saving medication at schools, despite being at risk for serious seizures.

If Carmen Elzinga’s daughter Naya has a seizure at her Burnaby school she’s been told staff soon will not be allowed to give her medication.

“If someone does not administer that within five minutes, then she is at high risk of brain damage,” Carmen told CTV News.

Naya’s neurological condition resulted in 29 surgeries by the time she was seven. Her mom says the seizures do not stop on their own and require medication.

The health ministry recently changed its policy on who qualifies for in-school intervention. If a child hasn’t had a serious seizure within the previous 12 months – starting in September – staff won’t intervene. Instead, a parent or 911 will be called.

Elzinga said she and her husband are now planning for one of them to always be within five minutes of school.

“They’re basically forcing us to choose between the well-being of our daughter and us earning a living,” she added.

Hampton Gaudet is in a similar position. His parents say he’s had 20 seizures this year at school, but also does not qualify under the new policy.

The Health Ministry did not respond to CTV’s questions and instead sent a statement from Saturday describing the new policy.

“To be eligible for Seizure Rescue Intervention Care Plan, a child must have required a rescue intervention over and above basic seizure first aid to stop their seizures. (Seizure first aid includes putting the child in the recue position, maintaining their airway and monitoring them .) If it has been more than 12 months since a child needed a seizure rescue intervention (medication), the child will be transitioned off an NSS Seizure Rescue Intervention Care Plan and into a Seizure Action Plan in the school setting. “

A video from the Cleveland Clinic shows how Naya’s medication is administered. After extracting a precise amount, the needle is removed, an atomizer inserted and sprayed into a child nose. This type of work is typically done by nurses – but sometimes school staff – like education assistants – are trained in case of emergency.

A document explaining the change says a child who hasn’t had a seizure in a year could have an acute and unpredictable response and requires a higher level of care then school staff can provide.

Elzinga is frustrated by the change.

“Even if she was to have a seizure, no one at the school would do it. Even if they’re trained to give it to another child,” she said.

By sharing her story she’s hoping the province will reconsider the move for the sake of the families now concerned about their kids’ safety.

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