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Laura Grevas/Daily Globe The Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Inc. presents a check to fund a second school nurse in District 518 on Monday at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. From left are nurse Wendy Donkersloot; Superintendent John Landgaard; nurse Joni Reitmeier; Trevor Nickel, Diane Schettler, Adam McCoy, Erlin Weness, all foundation board members; and Bob Demuth Jr., executive director of the foundation.

Health care foundation awards 90k for school nurse

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Nurses in Worthington District 518 have been able to expand the services they offer during the past two years, thanks to a grant from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Inc.

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Now, the foundation has renewed its commitment to promoting health care in the district, and awarded another $90,000 grant that will fund an additional school nurse for the next two years.

"It's been marvelous," said Superintendent John Landgaard. "We're doing things for kids that we would never be able to do (otherwise)."

Wendy Donkersloot will continue working as a nurse at Prairie Elementary, while Joni Reitmeier will continue to see students at the high school and middle school. The women are contracted through Sanford Regional Care Center and Avera Worthington Specialty Clinics, respectively.

Reitmeier was hired to assist with Donkersloot's myriad duties after the foundation donated $90,000 to District 518 in the fall of 2008, and this latest installment of funding will allow her to continue her contract with the district.

The time Donkersloot previously spent shuttling between buildings can now be spent on more productive endeavors: more involvement with students' families, better communication with teachers and more in-classroom health education, she said, and she can now attend more student services meetings for those who are in special education or have individualized education plans.

"It's also been great because there's coverage if I'm out of the district for a day," Donkersloot added. "School nurses have such an impact on a child's health that it's important for me to be there. It's important for someone with the proper licensure to be there."

She has also become a CPR-certified trainer, along with Area Learning Center nurse Jennifer Brands. They will be training district faculty, staff and students in the use of the Automatic External Defibrillator.

"It can make a huge impact out in the community," to have so many people with those skills, she said.

Reitmeier still needs to split her time between two buildings, but said she's learned to organize her tasks. Both nurses are able to have a more stable presence among students.

"We're more visible because there are two of us. We're able to be in school and not running between different schools," Reitmeier said. "I think it makes us more approachable, too. I know it's been a really big deal."

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