School nurses make a difference

Today is National School Nurses Day and Douglas County's chief nurse wants the community to know nurses do more than fix skinned knees.

Bonnie Dellner, chief school nurse for the Douglas County School District, said the community doesn't know all that nurses do.

"School nurses do more than just put on Band-Aids," said Dellner. "They conduct screening to identify visual, hearing and dental problems students may have.

"Kids can't learn if they have health problems. It's amazing how many don't read because they can't see. We try to catch problems as early as we see them. Now we have equipment to identify problems when they're really young.

"Our primary goal is to meet students' health needs so we can meet their educational needs," she said.

There are at least 12 nurses, assistants and health aides in the district with more than 69 combined years as school nurses and 224 years of nursing experience.

School nurses are involved in health education, nutritional services, physical education, counseling and mental health, parent and community involvement and staff wellness.

Dellner said teachers and parents play a big part in making sure the students get needed attention from their school nurses.

"To identify problems we get referrals and from teachers and parents," Dellner said. "Parents come up to us and say their kids have horrible teeth but can't afford to get them fixed.

"Nurses look for resources for parents to pay for dental and other problems. It's hard to get to see a dentist for free. Not all students qualify for Medicaid and they fall between the cracks," she said.

Another job nurses have is to enforce laws.

"Immunization is one of them," Dellner said. "We're watch dogs - we make sure kids who come from other states are vaccinated."

Each year the district's school nurses take on a major project. This year it was the Vaccines for Children program with free vaccination shots at school. Except for an administrative charge, the shots are free.

"Next year we're working on getting free dental care for kids in this county," said Dellner. "They used to have to go to Reno to get their teeth done."

Dellner said her staff has become more specialized over the years and they could practice anything from pediatrics to adult medicine.

"We're out there and people know us," said Dellner. "At the grocery store, people will come up and ask us about problems because they know we're nurses.

"We're here for all kids and families," she said.

Douglas County School Nurses:

Wendy Adkisson, LPN Meneley Elementary School

Cherie Alexander, RN Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School

Tami Beckett, RN Carson Valley Middle School

Susie Brumbach, RN Zephyr Cove, Kingsbury, Whittell schools

Bonnie Dellner, RN Douglas High School

Stephanie Kerr, RN substitute at Jacks Valley and Piñon Hills schools

Gail McCormick, RN Gardnerville Elementary

Carol Mortensen health aide at Piñon Hills Elementary

Rebecca S. Oxoby, RN Minden Elementary

Pat Sturgess, RN Jacks Valley Elementary

Kathie Taylor, EMT health aide at Scarselli Elementary

Lynada Woodman, RN substitute for all schools


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