Almost any job at a school is a busy one, and being a school nurse is no exception to that rule.
Paulette Manning is the nurse for both Marietta and Greenville Schools, and that’s a lot to keep up with.
Her position is a community service funded by the hospital, so she is actually an employee of Mercy Health Love County. Some years ago – about eight, or so – the hospital’s administrators saw a need for healthcare within the school systems.
“We felt there was a need for a school nurse, but knew that there was no room in the budget,” said Rural Health Clinic Director, as well as a member of the Marietta Board of Education, Connie Barker.
So the hospital, believing that a nurse could make a great difference, decided to fund a county school nurse. They originally hired Sheila Nipp, who served as a nurse for all four county schools. When it quickly became evident that Nipp had more work than she could handle, the hospital decided to increase the budget and hired an additional nurse. Nipp retired some time back, leaving Manning and Wendy Rush, who serves Turner and Thackerville, at the helm.
“As we saw it, it was an opportunity for outreach, and far more cost effective for parents and the hospital for children to receive healthcare before they became seriously ill,” said Barker. “For us, it was about keeping kids healthier so they could be in school, learning, instead of at home, sick. We plan to continue providing the nurses as long as we can.”
It pretty much goes without saying that the schools welcome the services that their nurses provide.
“To say that Mrs. Manning provides an important service for us is definitely an understatement,” said Marietta Superintendent Brandi Naylor. “For us, she has been a godsend.”
Manning, who actually came out of retirement to take the position, says it was an easy decision for her to make, and it’s been rewarding.
“I always wanted to be a school nurse,” said Manning. “I love the kids, and when the job was offered, I was happy to take it.”
Manning wears many hats at her schools. At Marietta alone, she has so many jobs, it makes you tired to think about it.
She keeps the immunizations up-to-date for about 1,100 students; coordinates clinics for flu shots; schedules vision screenings, which are mandatory for students in Pre-K and kindergarten, but offered to all students; completes routine checks for head lice; conducts information sessions with students, especially elementary kiddos, teaching them about poisons and other things that are bad for them; administers any medications that students need to take while they’re at school; and sees students with medical issues, referring them to a doctor if necessary. She even works with teachers who have health issues.
“I do all I can to keep everybody on both of my campuses as healthy as I possibly can,” said Manning.
For Manning and Rush, they have a schedule of set days they work at their schools, but the reality is that they’re pretty much on call as many hours as a school day is long.
“I might plan to be at one school, and the other one has an issue I need to deal with,” said Manning, “so I do run back and forth some.”
But for Manning, no matter how busy she gets, she’s still content doing what she’s doing.
“For me, this position was a door opened by God,” she said, “and some days it’s a mess, but I’m happy.
“This keeps me young!”
It gives Manning a sense of satisfaction to know that by doing what she does at school, she is able to take care of a lot of problems.
“The teachers, secretaries, and principals are so busy, they don’t have the time to do all of the things that I take care of,” Manning remarked, “and it makes me feel good to know that I’m able to help them like that. All the people I work with are good to me, and I really enjoy being a part of the team.”
The team is equally appreciative of Manning.
“She is an asset to our school system, there’s no doubt about that,” said Naylor. “We don’t know what we’d do without her.”