In a typical school year, it takes the nurses of the Lebanon School District four months to conduct health screenings of the entire student body. This year, that effort is expected to take just two days thanks to the involvement of nurses from Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
The Medical Center nurses are teaming up with the district’s nursing staff to conduct vision, hearing, height, weight and scoliosis screenings for students. Nearly 60 Penn State Hershey nurses visited three of the district’s schools on December 7 and more than 75 have returned to the remaining four schools today (December 14). Normally, district nurses would team up to do the student health screenings, leaving their own buildings short-staffed. But this initiative spares the nurses precious time that they can now spend helping students in their respective schools.
Some of the information gathered will be provided to parents in the form of letters stating their child’s height, weight and body mass index (BMI). So-called BMI letters are common. In fact, every year, parents of all school-age children in Pennsylvania receive one from their schools. But this effort is unique because some of the letters sent out in Lebanon will feature a new format. The Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion (CNAP), which is part of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, has drafted a revised BMI letter based on survey feedback from parents across Pennsylvania who said they wanted better explanations of health risks and a more detailed course of corrective action. CNAP plans to submit the revised letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Health next year in hopes that the new format will be adopted by all public school districts across the commonwealth. CNAP’s efforts to revise the BMI letter are funded by a grant from the Highmark Foundation. (more…)