District 518 adds new school nurseWORTHINGTON — This new job is right up her alley. Joni Reitmeier, District 518’s newest nurse, worked for six years as a pediatric nurse at Avera Worthington Specialty Clinics before starting her work at the high school and middle school on Tuesday.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — This new job is right up her alley.
Joni Reitmeier, District 518’s newest nurse, worked for six years as a pediatric nurse at Avera Worthington Specialty Clinics before starting her work at the high school and middle school on Tuesday.
“I’m still in contact with kids and that’s important to me because that’s my niche,” she said.
Working in a school environment is different — Reitmeier now finds herself developing specialized care plans and making sure immunizations are up-to-date — but she’s enjoying the challenge.
“I’m very excited but it’s a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to keep straight,” she said. “There’s a lot more to school nursing than people think. People think it’s just sitting behind a desk waiting for someone to come in...”
“... and you hand them a Band-Aid,” finished Sanford Clinic Registered Nurse Wendy Donkersloot, who until last week provided nursing services to all three schools in the district.
“We’ve been very appreciative of Wendy, but she’s been stretched a bit thin,” said Middle School Principal Clete Lipetzky.
Donkersloot is possibly more grateful than anyone to have another nurse on board — she will now work exclusively at Prairie Elementary and looks forward to having more time to focus on each student’s individual needs.
Donkersloot also said having another nurse could help decrease the number of absences.
“It’s easier for a non-medical person to say, ‘Oh, just go home’ (to a student),” Donkersloot said, while nurses have the expertise to assess the situation and determine whether a student should remain in class for the day.
In mid-September, the Worthington Health Care Foundation Inc. donated a two-year, $90,000 contract to District 518 for promoting health care. District administrators decided to use those funds to hire an additional school nurse, and in October signed Reitmeier on to a two-year contract through Avera Clinics.
Worthington High School Principal Paul Karelis said the district is grateful for the foundation’s support.
“(Having an additional nurse) has been a long-term goal of this district,” he said. “It’s very important to have two people for all the buildings we serve rather than running one person from building to building to do the job of two.”
Karelis said the district hopes for a renewal of the second nurse position after the two-year contract period is finished.
Reitmeier graduated from Worthington High School and earned her registered nursing degree from Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
In addition to her role as school nurse at Worthington Middle School and Worthington High School, Reitmeier is also the head gymnastics coach for WHS.