$500K Savings: Escambia To Privatize School Nurses, Health Techs

May 7, 2013

The Escambia County School District is set to privatize school health services next school year due to cutbacks at the Escambia County Health Department.

School nurses and health technicians in Escambia County schools have been outsourced through the health department for years. But beginning next year, the district plans to outsource medical staff through a private company, PSA Healthcare. The move is expected to save the school district about a half million dollars per year, according to Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

“We will have health techs in every school,” Thomas said. Additionally,  there will be 15 nurses, seven of which will serve a regional cluster of schools. “It’s the same arrangement we currently have with the health department.”

School nurses and health techs were notified last week that their jobs with the health department were being cut. Those employees will be offered jobs with PSA, Thomas said.

A contract between the Escambia County School District and PSA Healthcare is in the legal review stage and will be presented to the Escambia County School School Board for approval in May or June.


20 Responses to “$500K Savings: Escambia To Privatize School Nurses, Health Techs”

  1. David Huie Green on May 9th, 2013 6:22 pm

    “How can a for-profit company offer the same service for less than what the government can at cost?”

    They can spend less per service offered. Spend less per employee by paying the employee less or providing fewer benefits to the employee. If they can’t find employees willing to work for the lower pay and/or benefits, they can lower the standards until they find people willing to try to do the job. If they are willing because they are high school drop-outs, though, they might miscalculate dosages or who gets what and that might be tragic but maybe they will do well.

    They can provide less oversight, fewer bosses to also cost money. If they were needed to keep record of who needed what, kids might be hurt but if they weren’t needed, it might save enough money.

    They can get more work out of each employee, have them work in more places in a single day or week. That is actually not providing the same service, but if requirements aren’t spelled out and monitored, who will know until it is too late?

    They can reduce care provided, just not do all those things William mentioned.

    These are just possibilities. I’m sure I missed some.

    David for perfect service at zero cost

  2. Kaye on May 9th, 2013 11:52 am

    Thank you for addressing this important change in our schools. It has not been covered by any other local news sources at this time nor has it been addressed by the School District yet.

  3. concerned and curious on May 8th, 2013 9:45 pm

    I agree with Henry Coe….If the private contract will be for the same staffing as current, how in the world is it $500k cheaper?!?! How can a for-profit company offer the same service for less than what the government can at cost? The nurses and HST’s are already stretched too thin with the recent changes. Afraid of what the repercussions of this will be!

  4. Peg on May 8th, 2013 9:38 am

    Well, I to am a former HST here in Escambia Co. and the reason I left the position is because the health tech was paid very little but was the one that the child was sent to, if coughing and disrupting a class, fell at PE and had a skinned knee, but that health tech was also the one that administered insulin to the young diabetic that could not self administer, monitered what that child ate in order to calculate how much insulin was needed for that child that could self medicate, administer meds. for that child that needed them. They also were the ones that when that child with allergies ate a cookie with peanut butter in it administered the epi pen then called 911,and the parent all while tending to that child and trying to fill in the school administration while waiting on the ambulance. Please don’t underestimate what a health tech does.
    I personally feel like there should be an RN and HST for every school like it was a few years ago. I also felt like the HST’s needed more training than First Aid and CPR.
    Maybe we should try cutting corners in some other areas other than the health and well being of our children.

  5. MarshaMarsh on May 8th, 2013 8:47 am

    This is awful I Always felt better sending my child with epilepsy to school knowing health people was through the health dept why it is because Dr Lanza truly cares about all people and has no problem with making sure things are done right. These are children really now we are gonna probably put a price on health care something is bad with our school district. They bill medicaid for services which is understandable but before I let some outside company get money I will not let my child get services at school I will take them for speech elsewhere since it is clear the school system does not truly care about children with disabilities if so they would keep the health depot so ALL children benifit from them. We as parents need to really think about this our children deserve better it is past time to standup. Also thank you teachers clinic staff and others who go to work everyday for such little pay to try to teach our children.

  6. Henry Coe on May 7th, 2013 10:21 pm

    How is there so much savings by privatizing school nurses? Private = for profits , Health Dept = at cost.


  7. Former HST of MOLINO FL on May 7th, 2013 10:17 pm

    @ Delta The health techs do not provide primary health care for school kids. They bandage scrapes and cuts, and decide if a kid is sick enough to go home. Haf a million here, half a million there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.

    WOW! If it was only that easy as you listed then as a HST I could had sat back and earned my $8 an hr pay with ease. But now lets look at reality and what I as a Former HST had to perform for the well being of our Children in the School in which I was working in. So they could come home safe and sound to you as a parent or grandparent. We did provide health care for the children we educated, we cared, we were the first go to when a child stopped breathing, or was found unconusion and needed CPR. I’m going to give you a little bit of our work day we dealt with kids that were Diabetic, Epilepsy,Asthma,Eating Disorder, Child Abuse (not always Guidance Counselor),testing for Hearing Impaired, Medication,Drug testing, Alcohol and drug abuse ( yes the kids would come to school drunk and high) try taking care of 4 kids throwing up, two kids drunk and you being called out to PE for a kid who is passed out and unconusion. Then you get out to PE to find another child who has Asthma and forgot his inhaler. So, now you are up to how many kids..and oh lets not forgot the parent who is waiting in the clinic pissed off because you called her to get her sick child with fever and throwing up. So, I gave you a little outline on part of our work area now lets take a look at the sensitive side, we are the person who holds your childs hair back when she is sick, who gets throw up on our scrubs, we are the one who holds pressure to a childs head when he is bleeding or has a broken arm or leg assuring the child they will be ok. We are the person who cares enough to stay after hours with your child when a parent can not be reached and the child can not ride the bus home. Let us not forgot our plans we had but we broke them to remain with the sick child. So the list goes on and on. I give my hat to all the Nurses and HST’s that are in our Schools today. I will close with this People you better know who is taking care of your child in the schools the ones (HST’S Nurses) who spent many of days and years with your child and knows your child may not be there next year. You will have new people and new rules look ahead look at the future of our children is the cut backs going to be worth a childs life? I don’t think a dollar saved here and there can take the place of our children. To those who are affected staff children and schools I wish you all the best. Parents you better be involved.

  8. HST 2 on May 7th, 2013 8:49 pm

    Thank you William for clearing up any notion that an HST’s job description only involves placing a bandaid on a boo boo. We do provide primary care to children with specific needs during the school day. And to Lyn you are correct that it is the parents responsibilty to come and pick up their child when they are sick or hurt, but it should also give parents comfort to know if your child is having a seizure, or going into a diabetic coma because their sugar is low or any number of emergencies that can occur during any given school day there is someone who has been trained to handle the situation and stabilize your child until you can get there to do your parental responsibilty. (sometimes that can take thirty minutes) I love my job it is frustrating sometimes, the pay is not great and I do not get benefits with the state but I know that we make a difference in the schools!

  9. Ruby on May 7th, 2013 8:34 pm

    yes, it is my understanding also that it is a “informational” meeting… just wondering how “informational” it will be…

    Very unsure about ALL this…

    HST & Nurses need more than “informational”

  10. HST on May 7th, 2013 7:36 pm

    Well said Ruby.
    Some of us losing a lot more then just jobs.
    I for one losing retirement by 2 months.
    I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason
    and for the best.
    I hope that’s true this time.
    We have been invited to a informational meeting with PSA.

  11. Ruby on May 7th, 2013 6:43 pm

    No one has been offered any position with PSA at this time.. it is my understanding they will not make any decisions on hiring until July… the HST & Nurses are left in limbo as to what their future may be… It would be nice if they could get some type of confirmation on weather or not PSA is going to use them or if they are going to do like most companies and wipe the slate clean and start out with their own people… it is really sad that over 80 people are being laid off due to this “cut back “…. that many more people on unemployment & welfare…. no future in that…

  12. William on May 7th, 2013 12:20 pm

    Health techs and school nurses do much more than take a temperature and call mom to pick up a sick child.

    Much of their day involves administering prescription medications from home — medicines for asthma, diabetes, ADHD, heart problems….the list just goes on and on. There are hundreds or thousands of kids in the school district that are on prescription meds that are taken during the day, and the health tech is responsible.

  13. Lyn on May 7th, 2013 10:33 am

    In my day, if a child was hurt or sick, the staff called the parent to come get the child and take it to THEIR doctor. Parental responsibility at work.

  14. Steven on May 7th, 2013 10:08 am

    I don’t know where these “savings” are coming from….my neighbor is a health tech and she said she only makes about $8 with zero benefits. I talked with her over the weekend and she said so far no one has been offered a job with PSA.

    Outsourcing of public to private is not always cheaper. Ever hear of ‘change orders’. They will do nothing that falls outside the scope of the ‘contract’ and things come up, and the district will pay. Look at what happened to the prison system privatization. After a few years of getting raped financially and pathetic service, the state finally went back to public servants because it was better and cheaper.

    I expect there may be some politics involved here. Google “PSA Political Contributions” – - appears they provide plenty of $$$ to the republican party. Same holds true for the companies that got the prison contracts as well.

  15. lou on May 7th, 2013 9:28 am

    These cuts affect a lot of workers who live, work, pay taxes and even Vote in our county!! The ones getting short changed will be our children, school staff and our clinic staff. I hope it is worth every dime the school district saves!!

  16. Southerner on May 7th, 2013 9:15 am

    There needs to be much more cutting cutting of government spending.

  17. Delta Zelda on May 7th, 2013 9:03 am

    The health techs do not provide primary health care for school kids. They bandage scrapes and cuts, and decide if a kid is sick enough to go home. Haf a million here, half a million there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.

  18. luvdljr on May 7th, 2013 8:40 am

    You get what you pay for . . NOTHING MORE!

    $500K savings. Is that the price tag we put on our children’s health?

  19. opinionated on May 7th, 2013 8:32 am

    This company (PSA) has been in Santa Rosa County schools. I have children in highschool and elem. I have never had a problem with the techs.

  20. David Huie Green on May 7th, 2013 8:17 am

    Save money
    Get cheaper health care professionals to care for our children
    It MIGHT work
    It might not

    David contemplating implications of low bidders

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