Creating a healthy school environment and looking after the well being of nearly 1,800 students is an enormous undertaking, but one that perfectly suits Webster City School Nurse Eva Powers.
As the only nurse for the system, Powers is continually on the move between the four school buildings, alternating her schedule to spend time at each building throughout the week.
“Some days I hop all over the place,” she says, and mentions that every day is different; she never knows what it might bring. “There’s nothing routine.”
The Webster City native received her nursing degree at Iowa Central Community College and worked at Hamilton Hospital for six years before taking a position at Webster City Medical Clinic for 10 years. She has been with the school system for 20 years.
“This job is so different from the hospital and clinic jobs; it’s a completely different kind of nursing because you get involved in all kinds of situations,” she says.
“My job is to help students figure out health-related issues so they can focus on learning. I try to make sure all their health needs are getting taken care of,” Powers explains. She is grateful for the assistance she gets from the school secretaries in each building.
“They’re all certified to give medications and provide CPR,” she says. She also gets wonderful support from local health professionals, and works closely with Public Health Nursing on various projects.
While responding to daily staff and student needs, the nurse is also working on annual projects. When the school year starts, Powers is busy updating health and immunization information in the computer system.
“Computers and technology have really helped with my record-keeping,” she says. She has recently started vision checks for first through eighth graders and will have a Tdap vaccine clinic in January. Some classroom teaching on topics like hygiene, infection control and dental health is also among her duties. She makes sure that all staff receive training in bloodborne pathogens and CPR and get their flu shots.
Powers encourages flu shots for kids, along with proper handwashing techniques and cough etiquette, especially during cold and flu season. When students are sick, she advises they stay home. And if they have a fever, they need to wait until they are temperature-free for 24 hours before returning to school, she says.
“I track how many students go home sick and why they went home sick in all the buildings,” she says. If there is any highly-contagious illness present in a classroom, she sends a note home to let parents know.
Powers says it’s very important for parents to keep the schools notified of changes in their emergency contact phone numbers.
“If those change, please notify the school,” she says, “If a child gets sick or hurt, we need to be able to contact someone.”
The favorite aspect of her job, Powers says, “is just working with the kids, teaching them how to stay healthy.”