School nurse starts at Grayling Elementary School
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
In a tip of the hat to the past, the Grayling Elementary School has brought a school nurse on staff to help students with their day-to-day medical needs and to help them develop healthier lifestyles.
Samantha Rogers started as the school nurse at the Grayling Elementary School on Monday, Jan. 15.
Rogers is a 2005 Grayling High School graduate.
“We’re pretty excited that we get to keep one home,” said Grayling Elementary School Principal Gina Brunskill, regarding bucking the trend where graduates move away from Grayling to find jobs.
Rogers was added to the school staff where a large amount of students are taking medications. Another group of students have type-1 diabetes, which requires insulin checks five to seven times a day.
“That needs to be managed pretty carefully to make sure they don’t have health issues,” Brunskill said.
Other students use nebulizers to help treat asthma and allergies.
The Grayling Elementary School has 781 students plus 54 preschoolers.
Meeting the day-to-day medical needs of students was gauged to be beyond what front office secretaries should handle.
“That is a lot for the secretaries to take care of in addition to their own secretarial duties,” Brunskill said.
Rogers will help diagnose students who come to school when it is unclear they are sick or have such infections as pink eye.
“She can make a little bit more educated guesstimate on what would be the best course of action,” Brunskill said.
In addition, Rogers will help develop individual education plans for students with health impairments and diabetes.
“Adding Samantha to the staff will be a real positive thing, so as we have more kids who come to us with more allergies and food allergies, we’ll be able to better monitor their health,” Brunskill said.
During her first week, Rogers has seen an average of 25 students to give them medications, check their insulin levels, or help if they were not feeling good.
“It’s been very busy and I like it,” Rogers said.
Rogers earned her LPN degree from Kirtland Community College in 2013. She then went to work at the Grayling Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an assisted living facility located in the community.
After earning her RN degree in 2012, Rogers joined the staff at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, where she worked on the medical surgical floor. At the hospital, Rogers monitored patients’ vitals, handed out medications, and took care of post-operative patients. She also provided care for patients who were admitted through the hospital’s emergency room and managed the care for patients with chronic or acute illnesses.
Taking the job at the school has allowed Rogers to run the gamut, working with patients of all ages.
“She went from an older clientele to where now they’re getting younger all the time,” Brunskill said.
Rogers is married to Rick Rogers, a cook at Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails, who is also a Grayling High School graduate. The couple has an 8-month-old daughter, Isabella.
Rogers said accepting the school nurse job provides better hours, so she can spend more time with family.
“I felt as a community member that this was a real good opportunity for me and my family since I do have a baby at home,” Rogers said.
As time goes on, Rogers will work with students to educate them on how to wash their hands and properly blow their noses, especially as the spread of flu becomes more rampant.
“Maybe it will be able to prevent having so many sick kids,” Rogers said.
Rogers will also work with students one-on-one to promote healthy lifestyles and how to avoid slip-and-fall accidents.
“I hope I can do good things here and make a difference,” Rogers said.
Over 20 years ago, Brunskill, a Grayling High School graduate, said a nurse would come to the school for a half of a day once per week. The nurse would then go to the other school building.
Besides having a computer to keep records, Rogers said her job is the same as traditional school nurses who served in the past.
“I’m sure I’m doing the same things that they were doing back in the day, taking temperatures and handing out the ice packs – ice packs seem be a big deal around here,” Rogers said.
Funding and hiring a school nurse to help meet the health needs of students at the Grayling Elementary School was a priority of the Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education and Superintendent Joe Powers.
“Because the board as well as the superintendent have been so fiscally responsible, we’ve been able to offer this through our general fund,” Brunskill said.
Grayling High School students can get health care through the Viking Wellness Center, which is funded by a grant through the school district and District Health Department #10.
Brunskill said Grayling Middle School students can access health care through the Viking Wellness Center, but they don’t deal with bumps, bruises, scrapes and loss of teeth as the younger students do and know when they are not feeling well.
During her first week on the job, Rogers has helped students in need with such items as snow pants.
“Getting some resources out to the kids is a great thing,” Rogers said.
Rogers will be involved with the Viking Pantry, which is in the process of being implemented at the Grayling Elementary School. The pantry will offer food, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies to students.
“That goes back to creating that community school that really does try to serve our students and our families with what we can and whatever we have to offer,” Brunskill said.