School nurses play a vital role

School nurses: “It's not all about the bumps, the bruises and the band-aides"
Posted at 6:16 PM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 12:26:23-04

ANGOLA, NY (WKBW) — The role of a school nurse is vital to your child's health and safety. Nurses provide care from minor injuries to saving a student from a drug overdose with Narcan. But as 7 eyewitness news senior reporter Eileen Buckley tells us, not all schools have a full-time nurse.

“How are you today?” asks Sheryl Zielonka, school nurse. “Good,” responds Evan Darcia, first grader.

First grader Evan Darcia is diabetic. Each day he stops in the nurse's office at the AJ Schmidt Elementary School in Angola to monitor his blood sugar. This Lake Shore Central School is fortunate to have a nurse on staff full-time.

“I just got my blood checked,” declared Darcia.

Sheryl Zielonka, school nurse.

“Every day is different – you never know what's going to come through the door,” remarked Zielonka, nurse at AJ Schmidt.

Nurse Zielonka is at ground-zero - handling all types of health issues, injuries and emergencies.

“Hi Taya. What’s the matter?” asked Zielonka. “I fell on my knee. In gym class,” responded the child.

“I could not imagine a school without a nurse,” Zielonka explained.

The National Association of School Nurses says more than 30-percent of schools only have a part-time nurse. Yet chronic illness and diseases for children has skyrocketed.

“It's not all about the bumps, the bruises and the band-aides because we have to deal with the person as a whole,” stated Patricia Binaxas, nurse at Lake Shore High School.

Binaxas is also the director of health services for the Lake Shore Central Schools. She tells us there's a big increase of mental health issues like anxiety and depression among teens.

“Which ends up putting a lot of these students on home instruction because they can't function under the normal school day,” remarked Binaxas.

“Hi Gloria...what's the matter?" Nurse Zielonka questions. I have a stomach ache...”

AJ Schmidt elementary school principal Jill Clark praises the nursing care.

“They are the tick to the clock here,” Clark said.

Clark reflected on this past season's difficult flu season. One student spiked a 105-fever and the nurse escorted him in the ambulance to the hospital.

“This little office – we had so many of our kids – and she would come in say we have another one going home. We have another one that's going home,” Clark recalled.

It's a tough job, school nurses face physical and emotional demands. But they know their work is vital.

“You never know when you have to save someone's life,” Zielonka noted.