By GILLIAN MOHNEY
One California teacher is happy to simply be back in the classroom as the new school year kicks off.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer last year, Carol Clark was forced to stay out of the classroom for nearly the entire year due to treatments and complications.
Eventually she was gone for so long, her health insurance and salary were threatened. But Clark's benefits were saved after multiple colleagues donated their sick days to the 6th grade teacher.
Clark, 56, a teacher at Jaime Escalante Elementary School in Cudahy, California, ended up receiving an additional 154 sick days from co-workers or other teachers as part of a program run by the Los Angeles Unified School District to help teachers in Clark’s situation, according to ABC News station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
Before the donation Clark had been struggling to keep her salary and benefits. For many teachers in the Los Angeles area, once they use up their sick days and their vacation days they can start losing both their salary and health benefits.
Last year Clark missed nearly all of the school year except for just two months. Clark originally thought she would be able to come back for the spring semester, but she ended up needing major surgery after complications arose.
“I finished chemotherapy. Within a week I developed complications,” said Clark. “I couldn’t come back to school at all.”
To cover her time off, Clark used her vacation days and another 120 sick days that she had accrued over 16 years of teaching. But it wasn’t enough.
At the end of last year, she had no more sick days and was still too sick to teach. Clark had one other option. Her husband, also a teacher at Jaime Escalante Elementary School, was able to rally co-workers and other teachers to donate their sick days as part of the “Catastrophic Illness Donation Program.”
"We get paid for 180 days in the school year. So she got 154, so almost a whole year," Dave Clark told KABC-TV.
Gayle Pollard-Terry, deputy director of communications for the Los Angeles Unified School District, told ABC News that the program helps around 20 to 25 teachers every year.
“When you run out of all of your sick paid leave…if you run out, you [can] lose your health benefits and your income,” she said.
Pollard-Terry said the program can help fill the gap for sick teachers or school district employees.
She said although most donations are not as extreme as Clark’s tally, there have been at least two other donation drives where more than 150 days were raised for a teacher.
For Carol Clark the outpouring of donations from co-workers both past and present was surprising and emotional. She now has extra days to help her through new surgeries scheduled for this year.
“Other people ask me ‘What do you say to people who donate?’” said Clark. “I don’t know what to say to them. I say thank you. But that doesn’t’ seem like enough. It was really a tremendous thing that they did.”
Clark said she tried to thank her co-workers in a staff meeting but was too “chocked up” to speak. Instead she ended up writing them an email to thank them.
This question comes up frequently and is asked quite often by nurses, "Should I carry malpractice insurance?" Many nurses are covered under their own individual liability insurance carrier. Many more are not. I am.......... are you??
Nurses can be sued at any time, for any reason. Often, allegations brought against you are unfounded, but just being named in a lawsuit gives one pause and can be one of the most stressful times in your life. The nurse feels embarrassed and fears damage to a perfect reputation.
Your employer's policy may cover you, but only up to a point. Remember: Your employer's policy is created to fit their specific needs and protects them first.
You may even be told (by your employer HR) that you do not need your own policy. What they do not tell you is that they want you to be represented by their attorneys. They do not want "outside" representation for they know that their best interests will not be first and foremost. Carrying your own policy will ensure you personal attorney representation when you need it and this attorney will be concerned with only protecting YOUR needs and YOUR best interests.
All malpractice insurance policies have limits of liability. If you are only covered by your employer's insurance, other defendants employed at your entity may and probably do share your liability limits under the same policy. If you as well as others are named in a suit, your legal costs, including any settlement, could exceed your employer's shared liability limits. This would mean out-of-pocket expenses for you!!
The following are a few individual carriers:
Nurses Service Organization (NSO) - www.nso.com - #1 carrier for Nurses with free online quotes
Marsh Affinity - www.proliability.com
www.seaburychicago.com - not in all States
Liability insurance can also be purchased through CNA by going to the American Nurses Association website - www.nursingworld.org
And, some Home Owners insurance policies will have stipulations for liability insurance.
It is up to the individual nurse how much liability to carry. $1,000,000/$6,000,000 coverage premiums are approximately $90/year in most States for the RN and $90/year for the LPN - NSO.
Another benefit of carrying individual coverage which extends beyond your employer's limits:
Many Carriers reimburse you up to a certain amount if you are defending disciplinary charges with your Board of Nursing (BON).
And, many policies also address the following (not all inclusive):
charges of confidentiality violation
assault on the job
So, do you carry your own individual liability insurance??
Small price to pay for peace of mind...