A new bill signed by Gov. Deval Patrick will allow students to carry Epi-pens in schools. The bill was signed last week, nearly 10 years after a Woburn mother proposed the law in 2004.
The bill—H. 3959, “An Act Relative To Access To Epinephrine In Schools”—was sponsored annually by Rep. Jay Kaufman until it passed in 2012. Along with Kaufman, Rep. Cory Atkins, Rep. John D. Keenan, Rep. George Ross, Rep. Kate Hogan, Rep. Denise Andrews and Sen. Karen Spilka sponsored the legislation.
Freedom Road resident Laurel Francoeur proposed the bill to Kaufman in 2004, as her son was ready to enter Kindergarten in the Woburn Public Schools.
"I was told that his Epi-pen (his life-saving medication) could only be kept in the nurse's office," recalled Francoeur. "I was afraid that because the nurse's office was far from his classroom, he might not be able to get to his medicine in time to save his life."
Francoeur began to wonder if legislation was possible to allow students to carry their own Epi-pens or have them in their classrooms, easily accessible in the case of an emergency.
An incident in which her child did need his Epi-pen while in school occurred in December of 2005, when the nurse was out of the building. Francoeur was able to reach her son and administer the life-saving drug.
"I hated to think of what would have happened had I not been there on time to give him the medicine that was otherwise unaccessible," she said.
After that incident, Francoeur approached Kaufman, who championed the Woburn mom's cause.
Without Kaufman's support, Francoeur told Patch that the legislation would not have been passed. In appreciation, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America New England Chapter (AAFA) is planning to honor Kaufman at an April event.
Since 2005, Francoeur has become active in championing health-related causes in Woburn schools. She is a member of the Woburn Schools Wellness Committee and helped draft policies for the district. She is also the Massachusetts representative to the Food Allergy Initiative, now the Food Allergy Research and Education committee.