The BSKL nursing team might be best known for their work during the pandemic. They've certainly been busy over the last year reviewing health processes, implementing SOPs, and liaising with the Ministry of Health.
However, many parents might not remember the other services the team provides each day to help keep the BSKL community safe and healthy.
BSKL’s nursing team, led by Senior Nurse Uma Devi Selvarajan, serves more than 1100 students, 200 staff, and by extension over 1600 parents in our school community. In addition to all they do during a crisis like the pandemic, they’re engaged in health and wellbeing issues every day.
The school has two sick bays, one on Upper Hill and one on Lower Hill campus, where BSKL’s nursing team sees patients for everything from distributing medicines, to scrapes, bruises, and upset stomachs. The Upper Hill Sick Bay serves early years, key stage 1, and secondary students. The Lower Hill Sick Bay serves key stage 2 students.
Nurse Uma leads an experienced team of registered nurses, including Nurse Sashittha Narayanan and Nurse Lalithadevi Meniyandi. Together they have more than 30 years of experience amongst the three of them. All are certified by the Malaysian Nursing Division of the Ministry of Health and continue to develop their learning through professional development and additional schooling.
As you might imagine, they all got into nursing to help people and they each bring a particular commitment to children’s health.
Nurse Uma said: “Being a school nurse is very interesting and can be challenging because we have to be able handle emergency or non-emergency cases at all times. It can be as simple as a mossy bite or as serious as broken bones. I can recall once in early 2019 there was an emergency with one of our cleaners, where she didn't realise her baby was coming until it was too late. I had to conduct a baby delivery in our school and received a lovely baby girl before the ambulance arrived.”
The nurses rotate between both sick bays, which are well provisioned and equipped to manage a variety of routine and emergent clinical situations, as well as safe medicine storage.
The nurses' experience proves invaluable in times of emergencies, but their practice extends well beyond emergency care.
In fact, much of their daily focus includes managing allergies and other chronic conditions for students. The nursing team works closely with teachers and students to distribute daily medications.They also work closely with parents, students, teachers, and the dieticians and caterers to ensure food allergies are well managed.
The nursing team coordinates the collection of all relevant medical information for students when they join the school and coordinates the creation of individual health care plans for those who need one.
When students with allergies are at school, in particular food allergies, they work tirelessly to prevent exposure to items that could make a student sick, especially with younger children who are not able to self-manage their food intake. The nurses ensure that food for younger children goes through three cross checks each day. First with the dietician, then the class teacher, and finally with the server before handing food to a student.
The team also works with parents and teachers to ensure that students receive any required medications at the appropriate time and manner, paying close attention to younger students that are not old enough to self-manage.
The team also spends a lot of time on emergency prevention. They prepare the first aid kits and documentation for field trips, lead first aid training with selected students and staff, and liaise closely with our Facilities and Services team to ensure campus stays safe for everyone. They are also always on-site for large school events like Sports Day.
A lot of thought goes into preparing for emergencies behind the scenes. For instance, if a student comes into school on crutches, the nursing team seamlessly work with the academic staff to create an individualized evacuation plan.
“We have to think about things like how that child would evacuate the building from the floors where the classes are in case of a drill or a real emergency. We have to let the academic team know the plan for that child and how to operate the evacuation equipment so everyone knows what to do,” Nurse Uma said.
Like all BSKL staff, the nursing team tries to get to know their students personally. This helps them provide another valuable service, which is staying alert to the emergence of any future medical issues.
Nurse Sashittha recalled a time when a child began reporting to the sick bay with stomach distress at the same time each week.
“We quickly liaised with the parent and connected the issue to something that was a part of that student’s schedule,” she said. “From there everyone was able to work together to help the student.”
The nursing team also provides guidance to students, teachers, and school leaders in regards to creating a culture of healthy lifestyles. This includes serving on the school’s Health and Safety Committee and playing a role in child safeguarding practices.
BSKL’s nursing team will continue to play a large role in keeping the community as safe as possible from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the measures implemented in the SOP involve their team, and yes that does include reading hundreds of travel and health declaration forms every couple of weeks.
The school community is lucky to have such a robust team of nurses working together to keep people safe, not just during a pandemic, but every day.