Brooke County school nurses take action to counteract overdoses
By Kristine Varkony, WTRF.com
WELLSBURG, W.Va. - Brooke County has had 23 overdoses deaths between 2001 and 2014. That's the highest in the Northern Panhandle, and those high numbers are what is prompting Brooke County schools to do something previously unheard of in West Virginia: start stocking Naloxone, also known by its name brand Narcan, in case of a student overdose.
A waiver request from Brooke County school nurses has been submitted to the West Virginia Board of Education. Under the leadership of school nurse coordinator Carol Cipoletti, they submitted the request to be able to stock and use Naloxone last Monday.
"The time is right, it could happen. It's time to do something at the school level," Cipoletti said.
The group of nurses are taking the steps they say are necessary to prevent any unnecessary death in their schools. Cipoletti says kids as young as middle school age are coming to school, telling them that they've smoked marijuana or have taken pills that morning.
Critics of the waiver say this may be promoting drug use in school. They disagree.
"We do everything we can to try to get kids to not do drugs. Health classes, programs, nurses talking to kids. You can't say that's not in our education," said Cipoletti.
The waiver has been recommended to pass and will be discussed by the state board of education at their meeting next month. Naloxone can be administered nasally, by IV, and via a shot. If the waiver passes, Brooke High School as well as middle schools will have the shot readily available. They will be provided, and restocked if necessary, by area EMS at no cost to the school.
"I hope I never have to use it. I hope my other nurses never have to use it. I hope I never see another child in an overdose situation to the point that they need resuscitated. I wish they would find out where it's all coming from, and get rid of it, but that's never gonna happen," Cipoletti added.
Overdoses in school are not common. In her more than 20 years as a school nurse, Cipoletti says shes dealt with four to five, and never at a middle school level.
In anticipation of the Naloxone waiver passing, the school nurses, doctors, and EMS will gather this Friday morning for a preliminary training session.