School Nurse Honored with City Public Health Award

Congratulations to Althea Huggins, School Nurse at John Adams Elementary School, who has been named as the recipient of the Flora Krause Casey Public Health Award for the significant impact her work has had on the health and well-being of ACPS students, their families and the greater Alexandria community.

Huggins has been a school nurse with ACPS for the past eight years. A nurse since 1984 with a background in public health and hospice care, she began her school nursing career as a substitute nurse, going wherever there was a need. She passionately continues this work because of the critical role that school nursing plays in community health.

The award honors Flora Krause Casey (1904-1991), a longtime resident of Alexandria whose life work improved the health of Alexandria’s most needy and vulnerable residents. It is in her honor that the Public Health Advisory Commission continues her legacy by seeking and recognizing other individuals of like purpose, devotion, community advocacy and leadership.

School nursing is really about community health. Through the schools we are able to identify needs for health and dental care, coordinate resources for those in need and connect families with services, such as insurance, of which they may not be aware or know how to obtain,” said Huggins.

Huggins works in partnership with organizations such as the Alexandria Health Department, the Partnership for Healthier Kids, Alexandria Neighborhood Health and Care Connection to coordinate care for children, especially those with multiple health needs. School nurses collaborate with health care providers throughout the community, building bridges between families and the services they need. School nurses do their best to help families manage their health care needs, from getting transportation to and from appointments to arranging home health services, to obtaining shoe vouchers and eye glasses and coordinating other wrap-around services.

I really like working with the children and with the children come their families. And, I really love my co-workers. The hardest working group of nurses I’ve ever worked with are in ACPS. There are so many people deserving of the award. I am honored and humbled that I would be considered and chosen. It is so wonderful a school nurse would be selected and it is great to see school nurses recognized as real partners in community health,” said Huggins.

Ms. Huggins is instrumental in assessing the medical and dental needs of children living along the Beauregard corridor. She is a member of the working group that planned and implemented the Wellness on Wheels (WOW) Bus, a collaborative effort of Neighborhood Health and Alexandria City Public Schools used to overcome access to care issues for some of our vulnerable students.  Not only did she help plan the services for the bus, but she also works tirelessly to make sure students and families who need help gain access to the bus” – Barbara Nowak, MSN, RN, FNP-C, Health Services Coordinator, Alexandria City Public Schools

Althea is a strong advocate for students and their families and has worked hard to help meet the many needs of the students she serves. On numerous occasions, her life-saving interventions have saved the lives of students. She is also respected and loved by her coworkers and school nurse peers. School nurses are truly front-line public health professionals, and Ms. Huggins has been tireless in her efforts to positively impact public health in Alexandria.” – Robin Wallin, DNP, RN, CPNP, NCSN, Director of Health Services, Parkway Schools (2009 Flora Krause Casey Award Recipient)

Huggins and her co-recipient, Dr. Charles Konigsberg, will be recognized on Tuesday, April 26 at City Hall.

ACPS, John Adams