THOMASVILLE -- Wednesday was National School Nurses Day, yet rest wasn't in the orders for the school professionals.

Jerger Elementary School nurse Carolyn Dekle, L.P.N., treated several students including two with stomach aches, an injured ankle, a child vomiting, an asthma patient, and a child with a splinter as she checked a diabetics blood sugar level of another by 9:30 a.m. In addition to dispensing inhalers, Tums and daily medications, she neared overdose levels with a tremendous amount of hugs, given as well as received.

"You've got to have nurses in the schools to give out prescription medications," Dekle said. "Sometimes the kids need a little hug from somebody other than the teacher."

Dekle, who worked for Dr. Marshall Dunaway for 24 years before beginning at the school six years ago, is retiring for good at the end of this school year.

"Back then I worked for a living," said the future retiree who plans to travel. "This job was for the fun times. This is my world, I will miss it."

The much-loved school nurse received flowers and treats in honor of the occasion, along with compliments from those she has grown close to.

"She is the best nurse. She is nice and never gets a temper," said student Daphne Frasch. "Everyone begs to go to the school nurse."

Among their many responsibilities, school nurses promote health and safety; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student/family capacity for self-management, self-advocacy, and learning. Often they provide services to increasingly large numbers of students and frequently more than one school building.

"We do a lot of fixing of glasses, sewing up of clothes and little handy things," said Dekle who sees approximately 40-50 students a day.

Nurses in the Thomas County Schools also had a busy day.

"It's been swamped," said Terri Matthews, RN, Thomas County Health Services Head Nurse and Garrison Pilcher School Nurse. "We've had a lot of kids with a virus. We've been dealing with it now for several days."

In between treating kids with upset tummies, the nurses enjoyed some time out of the day sent aside for them.

"They bought me a new desk chair but they tricked me with it," Matthews said. "They had the principal (Judy Dorris) sitting in the chair that was soon to be mine and she was acting like she had hurt her ankle. When she jumped up off the chair I was telling her to stay sitting and there was a big sign on the back of the chair that said happy nurse's day."

Matthews, who has served at the school for 10 years, hurt her back last year and was grateful for the new seat. She's also grateful for her co-workers.

"Every one of the school nurses works hard, just as hard as I do and they are just as dedicated," Matthews said. "I don't know how they were recognized today (Wednesday) but whatever glory they got was well deserved."

To contact reporter Sandi Olson, call (229) 226-2400, ext. 226.

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