National School Nursing Day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On any given day, a school nurse’s office can quickly become a miniature makeshift emergency room.

&uot;You never know what’s going to come through your doors,&uot; said Yasmin Artis, who looks over Oakland Elementary’s sick and injured. &uot;It’s not just putting on band-aids anymore.&uot;

A graduate from the Obici School of Nursing

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Old Dominion University, where she earned a nursing degree, Artis followed her own kids to Oakland. She previously worked at Smithfield’s Brookside Home Healthcare, Emporia’s Greenville Memorial Hospital and the Deerfield Correctional Center in Southampton. Artis also spent time working in Obici’s emergency room, and still works part-time in the intensive care unit.

Speaking of her career move to Oakland, &uot;I wanted to be near my children,&uot; said Artis.

One of her children still attends Oakland, while the other’s now at King’s Fork Middle.

&uot;I like the fact that I have autonomy,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m the only medical authority.&uot;

As she and the rest of her colleagues across America celebrate School Nurse Appreciation day today, King’s Fork Middle nurse Kim Blunt gave her own reasons for involvement in the medicine-in-education field.

&uot;I wanted to get close to my home in north Suffolk and be on the same schedule as my daughter,&uot; said Blunt, whose child attends John Yeates Middle. With a degree from Western Connecticut University, Blunt worked at Robertson and Turlington Elementary last year.

&uot;It’s been a big challenge, coming from two smaller schools,&uot; she said, &uot;but there’s a lot of needy kids (at Fork). Your first year is always tough at a big school, but I’ve always worked with children and I enjoy helping them. I think I’m someone that they can talk to easily. I like the school atmosphere, and I get to be off with my daughter in the summer. Working with the students in such a diverse population is very interesting to me, and some need more caring and nurturing than others.&uot;

In her office in the school board building, health service supervisor Janice White remembered her own nursing background.

&uot;Once you get into school nursing, you have to think fast and you’re on your own,&uot; said White, who cared for students at East Suffolk High, Booker T. Washington and John F. Kennedy High Schools. &uot;For some families that don’t have insurance, we’re their first line of medical care.&uot;

Procedures such as catheters, tube feedings, nebulizer treatments have made their way from hospitals to schools over the past few years, she said. Nurses are involved in diets, diabetes care, glucose monitoring and other nutritional factors.

&uot;Children are coming to school today that wouldn’t have come 20 years ago,&uot; she said. &uot;We have an extraordinary group of nurses. They’re loving and caring and they know what’s best for the children at heart.&uot;

As Artis has seen, the kids recognize and remember that far down the road.

&uot;I love the recognition and praise from the students,&uot; she said. &uot;They recognize me on the streets, at the movies, at Lowe’s, everywhere. They’ll say, ‘That’s my nurse!’ and ‘That’s my doctor!’ I get a lot of notice from the students, and it makes me feel good.&uot;