People will often ask, “what’s the most challenging part of your job this year?”
The hardest part of my job this year has been to continue to ask more of our staff when I know they’re already giving so much and working so hard. The unyielding conviction that we must “press on” has presented this conflict within me every day since August 19th.
Everyone on my team has worked overtime this year, but at the top of that list is the core of our health team. We have a health task force of sixteen people made up of doctors, nurses, lawyers, health professionals, teachers, and administrators -- all followers of Christ and committed to prayer. Then we have an internal health team of nine people that works during the day including Yvonne Cruz; Laura Friend; Jackie Hayes, Rn; Mandy Keizer, Rn; Stefanie Lemkuil, Rn; Heather Lindemulder, Rn...and the group that spends the most time keeping our kids in school is our core health team made up of three superheroes: Captain and Lead Nurse Erica Plaisier, Rn; Jill Tigchelaar, Rn; and Cindy VanKampen who serves as the health secretary. We’ve spent countless hours together this year...and, yes, we have stories to tell!
Imagine waiting for an email in the Covid inbox every hour of every day -- nights, weekends, holidays. (We will soon eclipse four thousand emails in this inbox. Each email requires a response and triggers a course of action.) Imagine waking up and your first instinct is to check the Covid inbox. Imagine going to bed and wondering if you’ll have a positive case in the inbox to deal with the next morning. And then imagine knowing that you have to immediately spring into action each time a positive case is reported.
It goes something like this: call the family and the child, ask who they’ve been around, review their schedule, analyze their classroom seating charts, analyze the bus seating chart, call every close contact and interview them, call each of the teachers and interview them, file extensive paperwork for the health department and then answer their calls, frequently provide updates and reports to your demanding boss (that’s me) from the time you wake up until you go to bed, answer questions from parents and staff, absorb the understandable frustration and even desperation of parents and children who have to be quarantined for ten days, carry the emotional toll of knowing that a class or wing or building could be temporarily “shut down” if you can’t get the job done, keep flawless records internally, be pulled from dinner and kids’ sports for work, and with a chronically heavy heart try to be the best wife and mother you can be. And then imagine doing that every single day since August 19th. Worst of all, I can’t give them a day off. We all count on them!
Wednesday, May 12 is National School Nurse Day. Their traditional role is hard enough. In addition to what I’ve described above, you can’t believe the amount of students they see every day for scraped knees, bruised elbows, a loose tooth, or helping to calm a child who simply misses their mom. Let’s celebrate all of our health team members and certainly those who stand watch over our school every waking hour. We have less than three weeks to go...but to them it feels a lot longer. Let’s put some wind at their back tomorrow, and let’s finish what we started.
Press On, Timothy Health Team.