Many students track essential medications such as epinephrine, Ibuprofen, or Vitamin D. However, as the Health Office implements new changes to its medication policy, many students should watch their medication use during the upcoming school year.
During check-in, students should have stopped by the Health Office, where all types of medications and health products — including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, emergency medications, vitamins, and supplements — were checked by the health staff. This included all liquids, creams, pills, inhalers, eye drops, ear drops, nasal sprays, lotions, and gels. Submitted medications should have a label indicating that they are approved to be kept in the student’s room to be self-administered, otherwise, they are kept in either the student’s RC (Residential Counselor) office or the IMSA Health Office to be administered.
Prescription medications of creams, lotions, gels, inhalers, sprays, drops, and oral contraceptive pills will be allowed to be in the student’s room. In addition, emergency medications — such as inhalers, EpiPens, glucagon, and seizure medications — can also be kept due to their use in emergencies. All prescription medications held in the Health Office will require a physician’s authorization, which is available on the IMSA website. Students taking prescriptions held in the Health Office will also be given the option to either utilize a pill packet prescription service or to receive three empty labeled bottles, provided free of charge by the pharmacy, which will be used to send weekend and evening doses to the residential halls.
Nurse Angie Shoener, Head of the IMSA Health Department and Coordinator of Student Health Services, explains that the policies were made more rigid and complex to ensure that students would not order potentially harmful medications online. With better control for what medications students would have access to, it would help protect students from improper usage. Thus, health staff will have to manage an increased amount of tasks, which include addressing daily administrations and medication refills, monitoring therapeutic and side effects, ensuring compliance with proper usage, and preparing for weekend administrations. Furthermore, RCs will have to take on the increased responsibility of ensuring that students follow the appropriate dosage of their medications sent to them by the Health Office. They must ensure that all medications are checked and properly labeled for self-administration within a student’s room in the event of a room inspection. Any unauthorized medications discovered in a room will lead to disciplinary actions.
In light of these changes, parts of the Health Office’s policy have remained similar to earlier years. Nurse Angie explains that the practice of keeping all psychotherapeutic medications, i.e., antidepressants, anti-anxieties, stimulants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers, in the Health Office will remain the same from previous years. Additionally, the storage and administration of other medications kept in the office will also remain unchanged. The Health Office will still have the ability to administer over-the-counter medications such as Aleve, Zyrtec, Maalox, Sudafed, Claritin, etc., provided that physicians issue standing orders for these non-prescription medications. Parents can grant IMSA authorization to administer these medications to students by indicating their preferences in the PowerSchool registration responses.
Medications are a very important part of life for many students. As these changes make their way through the student body, keep an eye on your medications and use them responsibly. Know your medications, whether they are antihistamines, short-term antibiotics, vitamins, emergency treatments, or others, to ensure that the Health Office is aware of what you are using for a healthy year.