By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL
A: So, the health services supervisor and homebound supervisor is over all the school nurses – then over the homebound services. So, I’m working with students who are unable to attend school also. I started out at Rock Springs Middle School as a middle school nurse then moved to Brown’s Chapel Elementary in the fall of 2012 and stayed there until I took a clinical charge nurse position.
Q: What has it been like working with Sarah Winters during the transition period?
A: It’s good. I realized that even though I’ve worked closely with her for many years – just the enormity of what she does. The homebound piece is something I learned a lot about. The biggest responsibility I’m taking on is overseeing the school nurses. We have four clinical charge nurses that would be underneath the health supervisor. It’s a big title. It’s a lot of work. Not all our schools have a full-time nurse, so there’s just a lot of coordination that has to happen. As the supervisor you’re overseeing that we’re making sure every single piece is taken care of even in the school.
Q: What is something you think there’s a need for right now in nursing?
A: I think the need is just increased staffing – and I know that is one of Dr. Sullivan’s priorities for the district. We’re no different than the teachers in that need right now. Currently there are only funds for one nurse for every three thousand students, and that’s just not a lot of funding. A newer funding formula is supposed to be one nurse for every 750 students, so hopefully that all lines up. For lots of our nurses their day is already divided into scheduled appointments – so that might be feedings and diabetics, students with diabetes or daily medicine or doing oxygen checks. They may have 30 – 40 of those. And then you have students for walk-in visits.
Q: How much of a concern do you think COVID is now in our schools?
A: We’re getting reports of COVID in students and staff still, but we’re treating it. Just like the FLU and strep throat, COVID is going to be part of our communicable diseases that schools are going to deal with. So, we are treating it like other diseases and asking parents to keep their children at home when they’re sick, and don’t send them to school if they have had a fever. We have more supports in place now to support our students overall with COVID.
Q: What is something parents should know about their school nurse?
A: I want them to understand all the student health services available to them. I think from a parent perspective, unless you have a student with a chronic illness like asthma or diabetes, something where they are required to see the nurse every day, they don’t realize we are there to provide health education to students. We can help manage those chronic illnesses to where those students can be in school. Our goal, ultimately, is to keep kids in class – because if they’re in class, then they’re learning. If they come to the nurse every day, they miss class time. Our goal is to get that managed and get them back to class. And healthy.
Q: How do you feel about moving into this new role? Excited? Nervous?
A: It’s very exciting. Sarah Winters has built a great foundation for our department. Each year our district grows and grows, and just the programs she started with Project Adam, and we’re doing hands only CPR, having shared documents – it's very cohesive because of what she built. I’m just ready to add on to that because it’s a big job.