By Michael Howell
Last week Hamilton School District’s School Nurse Program got a boost from Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, when Dr. Jennifer Feighner dropped by with a check for $6,500.
Right now the school nurse program in Hamilton is a two-person operation. Registered Nurse Nancy Doyle and Licensed Practical Nurse Brandy Bussard work as a team serving the school district’s four schools, which means doing some traveling around town. Bussard said that they divide their time between the four schools but the primary and elementary schools seem to get the most attention.
According to Bussard, they split the workload, with Doyle covering the administrative side while she is mostly out in the halls putting on band-aids and wiping tears.
Eric Larson, Director of Student Services, said the combination of having a Registered Nurse along with a Licensed Practical Nurse works very well for the school district. He said having a nurse available gave parents a great comfort level.
“It’s true,” said Scott Holland, Washington School Principal. “When Brandy is in the building it’s very nice. Otherwise, it’s the secretaries and me calling the parents and telling them their child was slightly injured but we think they are going to be OK. It makes a big difference if it’s a nurse telling them that. Anytime I don’t have to make that phone call it’s great.”
Larson said that the job of a school nurse is very diverse. They are not only responding to emergencies, they are designing and administering health plans for individual students with special needs, they are dealing with everything from seizure disorders to respiratory problems, to diabetes. They are educating the healthy kids about how to stay healthy, and they are training the students and the school staff on how to respond to a health crisis and how to respect other people’s special conditions. Larson said that the number of kids with allergies seemed to be on the rise.
Dr. Feighner said that the number of food allergies has doubled in the last twenty years. She said that studies on allergy to peanuts show that lack of exposure to peanuts in the early stages of development, that is the first three to six months, increases the chance of an allergic reaction to peanuts later.
Dr. Feighner asked if the school nurse program dealt with health education topics such as nutrition and exercise.
Holland mentioned the state-sponsored Healthy Snacks program and Larson pointed out that P.E. class, the school’s physical education program has, partly through the work of the school nurse program, been transformed into an H.E. class, that is, health enhancement.
“We teach physical fitness, but we also teach eating right, teeth brushing,” said Larson.
Dr. Feighner said it was very helpful to integrate mental and emotional health with physical health.
Bussard said that she was very appreciative of all the support she gets from the administration and staff.
Larson said he wanted to thank Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital for the donation.
“We would not be able to offer the program we do without the help we get from the hospital,” said Larson.
Dr. Feighner said, “It’s a great partnership.”