Wake County parents win fight with school system to keep nurses in place for children with special medical needs

Joel Brown Image
ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Thursday, August 23, 2018

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- There is good news for Wake County parents who have children with special medical needs. School leaders have agreed to let them pick the nurses who will stay with their kids every day.

"We had a meeting on Monday at the board office and they seemed very receptive," said Jenny Wade.

This Zebulon mother joined a small army of other parents, pleading with the school district to reverse a decision that forced the families to pick new nurses to care for their medically-fragile children at school.

Like the others, Wade's son, 13-year old Austin, needs full-time care - a result of a severe brain injury as a newborn

Austin requires a night nurse at home and a day nurse to get him to school and to be there every second of the school day.

"They know him, they've been trained, they know what to look for with seizures, how to feed him," said Austin's father, Darrin Wade. "It's very important we feel comfortable with the nurses - there's a bond that we create."

All the families insisted that consistency in their child's nursing care was crucial.

"These people are coming in our home," Jenny Wade said. "That home-school continuity piece is critical."

Austin's nurse is employed by Bayada Pediatrics, one of several nursing agencies rejected by WCPSS in a bidding process to operate within the school system this upcoming school year.

Earlier this month, WCPSS told ABC11 that Bayada failed to submit a bid proposal.

A rep from Bayada told us the company tried to submit a bid but the school system's bidding website wasn't functioning properly.

Austin's nurse, Cheryl Gearin, was disappointed by the original news that the boy's school caretakers may have to be replaced.

"I'm thinking here we go again, another nursing agency," Gearin said. "I think it's detrimental to these kids because they get used to a certain routine and here comes another agency - They want to do it this way. They want to take care of him this way."

After the parent's plea and our series of reports -- the school district promised a compassionate solution.

And this week, the parents are telling us, they're being told by the school system, they will be able to keep their preferred nursing agencies. At least for the upcoming school year, a permanent solution, still in the works.

"I'm very happy that, especially to you that you've come and done this story for us," Darrin said. "And I think it rattled the right cages and opened up the right eyes to help us get through this."

We're still waiting for specifics from the district -- but right now, the Wades and the others are preparing to start school Monday with the nurses they know and trust.