Suffolk child’s finger severed at school

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Suffolk child’s finger was severed at school, prompting change to a classroom rule. But one question remained unanswered: will the school district pay the medical bills?

The answer is yes. WAVY News’ Anita Blanton learned Friday morning the school’s insurance company would cover the cost of all medical bills for Kristen Hearn.

Five-year-old Kristen Hearn hasn’t been to school in nearly a week, but she’s been to the hospital several times. Last Friday at Nansemond Parkway Elementary while she was acting as the class door holder, her hand was caught in a steel door, and it amputated part of her finger.

“When I let the door go, I tried to take my hand out fast and it didn’t come out fast,” Hearn said.

“I thought that it just kind of snipped the top of her finger just the skin, but when I received the pictures, I was devastated,” said her father, Christopher Hearn.

Doctors were able to reattach Kristen’s finger. And while her parents say the school has shown great concern, they had stopped short of offering financial help for her mounting medical bills.

“Their exact words to me were ‘the insurance company may or may not pay the medical bills.’ So, that left a bad taste in our mouths,” Hearn said.

Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Public Schools, told the matter of any payment for medical bills had to be handled through the school district’s insurance company. She said Thursday it was still too early to tell if they will pick up the bill. That changed Friday.

“In some ways, I feel that the school is negligent because of that, because if a child is going to come through the door or be a door holder, someone should have been assisting her,” said Kristen’s mother.

Bradshaw said the school administrators have decided to discontinue the job of door holder for pre-K and Kindergarten classes.

Bradshaw also sent the following statement, describing what happened when Kristen got hurt:

The 5-year-old girl is in our Early Start program (pre-kindergarten). She earned the job of “door holder” for her class, and held the door for her classmates as they came in from recess shortly before 1 p.m. When the door closed, the middle finger of her right hand to the top knuckle was caught in the door. The girl opened the door back up to remove her hand, and the teacher quickly took the girl to the school nurse. The nurse iced and wrapped the finger, called the mother to let her know the school was calling 911 so she could meet them at the hospital. The girl was taken by rescue squad to Sentara Obici Hospital, and the assistant principal rode with her. The assistant principal stayed with the girl and her family in the ER until about 3 p.m. The teacher and nurse went to the ER after school about 4 p.m. According to the school nurse, ER doctors were able to reattach the fingertip. Several school staff members have been in contact with the family to stay updated on the girl’s progress.

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