WEST CHESTER (December 17, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently introduced a bill that aims to strengthen and improve how teachers, school nurses and employees react to and treat students suffering from seizures.
Senate Bill 979, named “DOMinate Epilepsy” after a young boy’s fight with epilepsy, aims to better educate school nurses and employees in seizure recognition and first aid. Jessica Rosini and her mother Beth Scolis have advocated on behalf of their son and grandson, Dominic, since 2017, when he suffered his first seizure. Dominic is battling with Doose Syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy.
“Jessica and Beth have been fighting for not only Dominic, but all children who face epilepsy, for years now,” Dinniman, who serves as Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said. “It’s time we helped them out in this fight by giving school health professionals the tools and training they need to understand the best ways to identify, respond to, and combat youth seizures.”
Senate Bill 979 aims to have all school nurses complete a Department of Health (DOH) approved online or in-person course which includes and focuses on the best seizure action plans by the 2021-2022 school year. It also stipulates that professional employees must complete a DOH course focusing on seizure awareness and first aid.
The bill explains that the DOH-approved course would be provided by a national nonprofit foundation with a distinct understanding of epilepsy and seizure disorders.
The first years of Dominic’s seizure onset included eleven hospitalizations, nine ambulance rides, a helicopter flight, and numerous tests, And while Dominic’s syndrome is rare, but epilepsy is not.
The family’s fight does not end with legislation, either: this past November, in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Month, students and staff of Fugett Middle School raised more than $3,600 through the “Fugett DOMinates Epilepsy” fundraiser. These donations went to fund research and help raise awareness through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are 3.4 million people with epilepsy nationwide, 470,000 of which are children. The CDC explains what these numbers might look like in a large school: with this data, out of 1,000 students, 6 of them are likely to have epilepsy.
“There is so much work to be done in the fight against epilepsy and passing Senate Bill 979 would be a major step in getting it done,” Dinniman said. “And with Beth and Jessica’s work, as well as Dominic’s brave fight, I am hopeful that we can get it done.”