This week we celebrate our school nurses in honor of National Nurses Week, with a special focus on National School Nurses Day on May 11.
Although access to education in our schools is free and readily accessible, health care is not. This makes the care our children receive in our schools helpful to some and critical to others.
Did you know that, unlike some local school districts, each one of our schools has a registered nurse (RN) on site? And, some of the larger elementary schools will also get an additional nursing aide in next year’s budget as part of our commitment to the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan goal of health and wellness and enabling students to be healthy and ready to learn.
Because we have RNs, our students, especially those from our most vulnerable families who do not have access to consistent and affordable health care, are able to get the care they need during the school day. This includes the administration of medications. Students, therefore, are more ready to learn.
According to the National Association of School Nurses, schools with a full-time nurse on staff have about half the student illness-related or injury-related early releases than schools where no nurse is present.
In addition to providing basic care and health and wellness education, school nurses:
- provide health services that increase school attendance
- prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases
- administer specialized services (medications, insulin pumps, ventilators, tube feedings) and manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and seizures
- identify and treat accidents and injuries
- verify immunizations and screen for vision and hearing issues
- counsel students about physical and emotional issues
- promote health and healthy choices, disease prevention and disease management.
School nurse Louise Gedeo has been with ACPS at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology since 2005.
Gedeo absolutely loves her job and is extremely passionate about helping people. She got an early start down this path as a child in her homeland, the Republic of Liberia, when Gedeo’s mother took her to a clinic to treat her injured ankle. From the moment she walked into the clinic, she was so enthralled in watching the missionaries taking care of their patients, that she forgot about her pain.
I want to do what they are doing,” Gedeo told her mom at the age of five years old.
And, it stuck. Gedeo went on to attend nursing school during the day while working in emergency pediatrics nursing at night. When she came to the United States in 2000, she continued working in emergency rooms and in urgent care settings.
Cora Kelly holds a special place in Gedeo’s heart.
“I love this school. There is great need here. I would not want to be in a school where I was not really needed. I feel like I can be of better service in this school with it’s multicultural population. Some of these families just came into the country and are nervous. I want to be there for them,” Gedeo said, recalling her own experience coming to the U.S.
Gedeo’s love of nursing and pediatrics, in particular, stems from the fact that she is not only helping the child, she is helping the family as a whole.
School nurses are the backbone of education. An unhealthy child cannot focus. Healthy students are better able to learn. For students, healthy living starts with learning how to make healthy choices and live a healthy lifestyle. If we work with them from the time that they come into our schools, it becomes easier as they progress through middle school and high school. By the time they leave for college, they will be set,” said Gedeo.