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Peabody increasing EpiPen access

By LEAH DEARBORN

PEABODY — Emergency allergy medication will be more accessible to students under a new citywide policy.

Under the new policy, cabinets containing EpiPens will be placed in all of the city’s schools so that other trained staff members can react to potentially life-threatening emergencies.

Currently, students with diagnosed allergies are sent to the nurse’s office to be treated in the event of an allergic reaction.

Sharon Cameron, director of Health and Human Services in Peabody, emphasized during a Board of Health meeting Thursday that the EpiPens will only be available for use by students with a diagnosed allergy whose parents have signed a permission form.

Cameron said the unlocked cabinets will be situated near areas of the school where allergy attacks are likely to occur, such as the cafeteria.

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The new policy hasn’t been implemented yet because the School Department is completing crisis staff training, said Cameron.

She said there are 10 staff members on the medical crisis team at the Carroll Elementary School and higher numbers at the middle and high schools.

“We want them only to be used by people with the proper training,” said Cameron, referring to the EpiPens.

City physician Dr. Emily Chin will review every usage of an EpiPen in the schools.

“If people have problems administering them, Chin will revisit the policy,” said Cameron. “We’ll be interested to see if there’s vandalism. That’s a concern of ours.”

Cameron said a permission slip will go home with students who have documented allergies during the first week of January.

The slip will ask for each student’s name, photo, diagnosis, dosage information and parent contact information.

In the letter, parents are advised that the confidentiality of the medical information provided cannot be guaranteed because it will be stored in the cabinet.

The cost of the EpiPens will be covered by the School Department, said Cameron, and one cabinet to house the pens has been purchased for each school.

Interim Superintendent Herbert Levine said in September that the high cost of EpiPen cabinets has served as a barrier from placing them in every school in the past.

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