Dad posting up at daughter’s school to oversee diabetes care

Esme Hennessy (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sending a child off to pre-kindergarten for the first time can be scary as a parent.

For Ted Hennessy and his wife, the risk is even higher.

Their 4-year-old daughter Esme has type 1 diabetes, which means she is insulin dependent to keep blood sugar at a healthy level. She was diagnosed with the disease at the age of two and a half after nearly going into a coma.

Thursday, Esme spread out her medical supplies on the floor in her living room to walk us through how she checks her blood sugar three times a day.

“The pinkies are the best ones,” Esme said as she pricked her finger and then placed a spot of blood on a glucose test strip.

“One four nine,” she said reading the number on the screen and holding up the handheld device to show her dad.

Ted Hennessy (KXAN Photo)
Ted Hennessy (KXAN Photo)

Esme started pre-k at Becker Elementary School a couple of weeks ago. The plan was for Hennessy to spend the first few days on campus making sure everyone was on board with his daughter’s care. Nearly two weeks in, and he is still there. He has been posting up in the school library every single day because he says he is not yet comfortable putting Esme’s health in someone else’s hands.

“We don’t have any consistency right now with her care,” said Hennessy.

On Monday, Aug. 21, the first day of school, he briefly saw a nurse, but it was her last day with Austin ISD. Hennessy says the next nurse came toward the end of the week. Most of the time he’s seen a variety of student health assistants.

“There’s been frustrating days with [SHAs] because they don’t know what to do or not comfortable going through the process with us,” said Hennessy.

After taking their concerns to the superintendent’s office, a nurse has been on campus over the last couple of days. Hennessy has also been told a full time student health assistant is starting soon.

Monday night, a handful of parents voiced their concerns to the school board. Several accused the school district of violating state law by not telling them about school nurse changes.

Austin ISD sent KXAN the following statement:

Austin ISD remains cognizant of the Texas Education Code when implementing any programming or service within the district. The addition of telemedicine increases the variety of how health services are provided and as such, does not fundamentally change the services provided in AISD. Nursing services are still available at all campuses, whether students will be seen by registered nurses or student health assistants supervised by nursing staff.

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