As a school district physician as well as a practicing doctor for teens, this has been some crazy week. On some of the first days of the Novel H1N1 (alias Swine Flu) news there were nearly hourly updates in my email from the CDC, the New York State health department, the school nurses with whom I work and the superintendent and other important administrators who were working in good faith to stay abreast of the latest news. School nurses' offices bore the brunt of the onslaught as jittery parents arrived wearing masks and hundreds of anxious calls were fielded so no major individual or public health mistakes were made.
All this took place while the daily work of the school nurses continued apace: checking for head lice, listening to an allergic child wheeze, putting band-aids on minor booboos, helping a diabetic child with her insulin, referring an injury to the emergency room, and many more.
So it is fitting that this day is designated an official day to recognize the work of the school nurse. Even in my relatively well-to-do community there are hundreds of children without an accessible or available doctor who takes their insurance plan and many more who have no insurance at all. For these children (and often for their parents as well) the school nurse is the first line of information, comfort, and help.
It is my honor to work with these soldiers of public health. It is my hope that as we move into a new era of health and insurance coverage, the school will continue to be a center of community well-being and will be allowed to extend its reach and even be reimbursed adequately for its work.