Patricia Dean, APRN, MSN, Epilepsy Program Specialist with the Epilepsy Center at Nicklaus Children’s and longtime collaborator with Epilepsy Florida, contributed to successful efforts to pass bills in both houses of the Florida legislature that will help keep children with epileptic seizures safer in the classroom. The bill is expected to become law effective July 2022.
“There is always concern by parents of children with seizures when they send their kids to school,” said Dean. “They worry about their children having seizures and who at the school has the knowledge to take care of them. In most of our schools in Florida, a school nurse is assigned to cover more than one school, so the chances the nurse will be available when a child has a seizure in a school is unlikely.”
The bills (House Bill 173 and Senate Bill 340), which both passed unanimously, require that state schools provide epilepsy or seizure disorder care to students in need. Schools must create an individualized seizure action plan for each affected child to ensure they receive healthcare at school when needed. The bills are now pending the signature of the governor.
Dean helped craft the Seizures in School Education Bill together with staff from Epilepsy Florida, and traveled to Tallahassee with several children and their families to advocate for the measures.
“This important piece of legislation will give parents peace of mind knowing that when their child is at school or attending a school-related function, staff will understand appropriate protocols in the event their student has a seizure. I am just so proud to be able to make a contribution to children with epilepsy. I started out at Nicklaus Children’s as a staff nurse on the neuroscience unit. It was at the bedside, spending eight hours a day with patients that I learned the impact of epilepsy on children and their families. As nurses and nurse practitioners, we have the ability to speak for our patients and can even be part of the creation of a law that supports their wellbeing.”