Plainfield D-202 adopts asthma medication program for quicker emergency response

Christina Edwards, director of health services at District 202 in Plainfield, holds some of the undesignated quick relief asthma medication and related tools that trained staff at District 202 district can give to anyone in an emergency.

District 202 in Plainfield now has the tools to address asthma attacks in real time, thanks to partnering with a program that provides the medication and supplies.

Trained personnel or the school nurse can administer undesignated quick relief asthma medicine when any individual at District 202 – students, staff or members of the community – experience respiratory distress, said Christina Edwards, director of health services for District 202.

“It’s anybody on our property,” Edwards said. “It’s not just exclusive to students.”

Edwards said the district wanted to implement the program for a long time.

“This is the highest need in our health offices,” Edwards said. “We see a lot of breathing issues.”

Illinois became the 11th state to pass legislation on stock asthma medication when Senate Bill 3015 was signed into law in August 2018, according to the Illinois Department of Health. Public Act 100-0726 allows any Illinois school to obtain a medical order for quick relief asthma medicine and authorizes the school nurse or trained school staff to administer the medicine during respiratory distress, such as an asthma attack, according to the IDPH.

This medication is stock or undesignated, meaning it’s not prescribed to a specific person, Edwards said. The medicine is available in strategic locations within all 33 schools, such as the nurse’s office and athletic training offices.

“We quickly resolve medical needs and get the kids back into the classroom.”

—  Christina Edwards, director of health services for District 202 in Plainfield
This quick relief asthma medicine can be given to any student or person in any school at District 202 in Plainfield in case of an emergency. The medication is provided through the Resources for Every School Confronting Unexpected Emergencies initiative also known as RESCUE Illinois.

Edwards said the goal was to quickly relieve the asthma attack “in the moment” and keep kids in school. Many students with asthma have their own inhalers, but sometimes children forget their own inhalers at home.

“We were having to call the parents to get them in; sometimes we called 911,” Edwards said.

And some parents might work 20 minutes away or farther and “a lot can change in 20 minutes.”

“Kids can go from minor to severe quickly because they compensate very well,” Edwards said.

The main barrier to implementing the program sooner was the cost, Edwards said. But District 202 was able to partner with RESCUE Illinois Schools (Resources for Every School Confronting Unexpected Emergencies initiative), which provided the supplies through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, according to a news release from District 202.

Each building has three inhalers with 200 puffs each, which cost approximately $2,500 total. The medicine is administered with spacers “to keep the medicine clean”; those cost approximately $1.20 each, Edwards said. For the entire school year, the cost of the medication and spacers was approximately $5,000, she said.

Since the program went into effect on Nov, 29, 2023, trained staff has used the undesignated asthma medicine approximately 30 times, Edwards said. Parents were notified before the program took effect and were able to opt out. However, parents were very supportive of the program, she added.

“We quickly resolve medical needs and get the kids back into the classroom,” Edwards said.

Plainfield District 202 hosted a moderated forum for the board candidates at the District 202 office on Thursday, March 16th, 2023 in Plainfield.

What other Will County schools are participating

Several Will County school districts are also interested in stocking and administering undesignated asthma medicine in their schools.

Valley View Community Unit School District 365U in Bolingbrook and Romeoville was authorized for undesignated asthma medicine for emergencies beginning with the 2022-23 school year, according to Jim Blaney, director of community relations.

Troy Community Consolidated School District 30-C, with schools in Joliet, Plainfield and Shorewood, is working with its board of education to establish a policy for future use, said Sarah Wells, director of communications.

Milne-Kelvin Grove District 91 in Lockport plans to implement the program in the spring, according to Jaime Koziol, principal.

Joliet Public Schools District 86 is not authorized at this time for stocking and administering undesignated medicine in their schools, according to Sandy Zalewski, director for communications.

Joliet Township High School District 204 does not allow undesignated medicine in its schools except Narcan, “which is legislated by law,” Kristine Schlismann, director of community relations, said in an email.

Lockport Township High School District 205 also has not implemented the use of undesignated asthma medicine for emergencies, according to Janine Wheeler, acting director of public relations.