A Kearny Mesa mother is outraged that her child's school is telling her it can't give her son his life-saving medicine if he needs it.
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Budget cuts are reducing the number of school nurses, and Kelly Reed fears that could endanger all children.
Reed's 7-year-old son, Nico, is severely allergic to tree nuts and needs to have his Epinephrine injection (EpiPen) nearby, just in case.
"If I couldn't get to the hospital fast enough then I'll have to use the other one to put it in my leg
If he is exposed, he has just a precious few minutes," Reed said.
According to Reed, officials at Fletcher Elementary School told her they cannot legally administer the injection, which would temporarily stop Nico's throat from swelling shut, until a registered nurse is available to evaluate it in a few weeks.
"There have been budget decisions made by the principals at these schools to put children's health and safety on the chopping block," said Reed.
Budget cuts have effectively left San Diego Unified School District schools with 129 nurses for 183 schools. Some are at the schools, while others split their time among multiple schools. Principals make the call on which to budget for.
In a statement, district officials responded, in part: "The support of 8-10 temporary nurses has been enlisted to support schools and students during the first week of classes. These temporary nurses will be primarily responsible for medication reviews at the 50+ schools that did/could not fund nursing services for the 2012-13 school year."
It is little comfort for Reed.
"This is a life or death situation," she said.
While Nico knows how to use the injection, his mother said it is a lot to ask.
"I think it's a lot of stress to put on a 7-year-old to administer his own EpiPen," Reed said.
Nico has already had a close call, An EpiPen administered by an adult saved him.
"It was a cookie with a walnut in it," he said.
Reed said going without one, even for a few weeks, is not safe.
"It makes me think it's actually not the right environment for him to be in," said Reed.
Reed told 10News school officials now said they would use the injection in an emergency. However, she remains concerned that they have not been properly trained.
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