School nurses do it all
This week is National School Nurse Week, and Wednesday, April 8, is designated by Gov. Nathan Deal as Georgia School Nurse Day. A special reception will be held Wednesday at Hutto Middle School to show appreciation for all the work the eight Decatur County school nurses do on a daily basis and a proclamation from the governor will be presented by Dr. Fred Rayfield, superintendent of schools.
The lead nurse for the district is Christy Harrell, who also serves as the school nurse for Hutto Middle School. A BSN graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, she has 13 years of experience with the district and has been lead nurse for three years.
She describes a typical day for a school nurse as beginning with dispensing meds to those students who require them. Throughout the day they will deal with stomach upsets, fevers, sore throats, allergies, splinters or even broken bones.
“We do it all,” she said. “You never know what will walk in the door. That is one thing I like about the job. It is never boring.”
She said the biggest challenge can sometimes be locating a parent when a child needs to go home.
Harrell said the school nurses also look after staff members and even visitors to the school when necessary.
They have a lot of communication with social service agencies getting students and parents connected with the help they need.
“Some students we see on a regular basis, simply because they need a little extra TLC,” Harrell said.
Other duties of the school nurse include doing hearing and vision screenings for students new to the system, or students about whom teachers show concern. They work closely with the Decatur County Health Department regarding immunizations and other matters.
A scoliosis screening is performed on all 6th and 8th graders each year, and First Aid and CPR training is given to first responder teams, lunch room staff and personnel in each school building.
Harrell teams with the health teacher to teach human growth and development to middle school girls every nine weeks. Elementary school nurses teach students the red flag/green flag program, where they learn to distinguish between good touches and bad touches, and how to respond to them.
The school system, as well as the nursing professionals, are bound by privacy restrictions to keep all medical information confidential. Exceptions are only made in the case where a teacher needs to be aware of a special health condition, such as diabetes or severe allergies, so that they may recognize and respond in an emergency situation.
The school nurses and the buildings where they serve are: Brandy Howard, Bainbridge High School; Cara Lynn of Bainbridge Middle School; Vickie Parker, Elcan King Elementary; Misty Griffin, John Johnson Elementary; Bonnie Provence, Jones Wheat Elementary; Kay Smith, Potter Street Elementary; and Carla Parrish, West Bainbridge Elementary.
Harrell said, on behalf of the nurses, they all appreciate very much the support they receive from the school board and administration.