California Governor Signs Epilepsy Bill into Law
October 12, 2011
Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2011) - The Epilepsy Foundation applauds California Governor Jerry Brown's signing of California Senate Bill 161, which authorizes volunteer, trained, non-medical personnel in schools to administer emergency medication to students with epilepsy suffering from prolonged seizures.
"This is significant progress for the epilepsy community," said Susan Pietsch-Escueta, Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. "This legislation will help save lives and reduce unnecessary medical risks for children with epilepsy in California schools."
Appropriate emergency intervention at school, such as access to life saving medications like Diastat, is extremely time-sensitive because prolonged seizures can have devastating results including brain injury and death.
Epilepsy California, comprised of the three California Epilepsy Foundation affiliates, worked extensively over the past two years with the bill's sponsor, Senator Bob Huff, and other legislators to help pass the bill. Epilepsy California's State Coordinator, Ann Kinkor who has three children with epilepsy, thanked officials directly.
"Thanks to Senator Rubio, Senator Lowenthal, Assembly member Fiona Ma, Assembly Member Hall and of course Senator Huff, today 93,000 students with epilepsy have the right to go to school with the appropriate medical support."
Facing mounting opposition from powerful groups such as unions representing public school teachers, nurses and others, Epilepsy California has been a strong and reliable negotiator, responding to the demands of these groups while maintaining the strength and integrity of the bill.
This issue is not singular to California . The Epilepsy Foundation is aware of multiple situations nationwide where people with epilepsy who are prescribed Diastat have been denied access to school daycare, or school-related activities. With the passage of this law, children in California now have the right to participate in free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
Dr. Brien Smith, chair of the Epilepsy Foundation Board of Directors and Chief of Neurology for the Spectrum Health Medical Group in Michigan, summed up the impact this bill will have:
"It's crucially important to be able to administer appropriate emergency care quickly to anyone suffering an epileptic seizure. A prolonged seizure that is not treated appropriately and in a rapid manner can result in brain injury. This landmark law allows affected students to continue to pursue their life goals without significant setbacks when attending school."