Sponsors want to be on the leading edge of training in preparedness.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Most school nurses in the Mahoning Valley are not prepared to respond effectively to a bioterrorism attack, according to a new study led by a Youngstown State University professor.
As a result, a team of local health professionals is organizing an all-day training session Feb. 3 that could make the Mahoning Valley a leader in preparing school nurses for such attacks.
"We are on the leading end of getting our school nurses training and getting out in front nationally on this issue," said Nancy Mosca, YSU nursing professor who teaches in the university's school nurse licensure program.
Mosca is the leader of a team of eight local registered nurses enrolled in the Ohio Preparedness Leadership Institute, a program aimed at developing public health leaders to effectively direct preparedness and emergency response activities.
Each team that goes through the institute conducts a final project, and Mosca's group chose to examine how prepared school nurses are to respond to bioterrorism and other disasters.
The team sent a seven-page survey to 125 nurses in all public schools in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Eighty nurses responded.
"It is very evident that just about every school nurse was unfamiliar with or unable to respond to a disaster of this magnitude, at least at the level that would be expected," Mosca said.
More than half of the respondents said they had low confidence in their bioterrorism preparedness, and 61 percent said they felt a great need for training in the field.
Mosca said the Mahoning Valley study reflects a national lack of bioterrorism/disaster preparation among school nurses.
"It's a whole new body of knowledge for school nurses to learn that they never had to think of quite in the same way before," she said.
Working with the National Association of School Nurses, Mosca's team is planning an eight-hour bioterrorism/disaster preparedness program for school nurses in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Ashtabula and Portage counties Feb. 3 at St. Elizabeth Health Center's Boardman Campus on Market Street.
Mosca said that bioterrorism and disaster preparedness also will be included in YSU's school nurse licensure curriculum for the first time starting this spring semester.
"School nurses are a great resource, and we need to make sure they are educated to the level that they need to be so they can be an asset if there is a terrorist attack or some other disaster," she said.
The study team won a national award from the National Public Health Leadership Development Network for the school nurse study.
Team members are: Mosca; Diana Colaianni, nursing director, and Linda Ewing, deputy nursing director, Mahoning County District Board of Health; Anita Kramer, school nurse ex-officio, Champion Local School District; Dixie Morris, director homeland security, Columbiana County Health Department; Nancy Norton, public health nurse coordinator, Trumbull County Health Department; Nancy Swanson, coordinator, Coordinated Action for School Health Coalition of Columbiana County; Patricia Sweeney, visiting assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; and Dorothy Bystrom, Ohio Department of Health school nurse consultant.
For more information on the training session, contact Mosca at (330) 941-3293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.