School Nurse from New Orleans Wins $10,000 to Upgrade Her Health Room

Angela_Damico_social_revised2Nurse Angie from Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy is Selected as the 2015 Ultimate Upgrade: Health Room Edition Contest Winner

Her students know Angela Damico fondly as “Nurse Angie.” Every day Nurse Angie cheerfully shows up to her New Orleans office to face another day of bumps, bruises, coughs, splinters, stomachaches, and bee stings. And that’s on a quiet day. Nurse Angie regularly administers prescription medications, and handles the more serious medical issues that come up in her population of nearly 800 young students.

But Nurse Angie works in a small room that also serves as the office for 3 other teachers. The furniture in her office is old and worn, and some of it broken. During examinations, a wiggly fabric screen provides privacy as students come and go from the crowded room.

Yet Nurse Angie works tirelessly without complaining about her equipment or conditions. It is because of this that School Health is pleased to be able to award the Ultimate Health Room Upgrade grand prize to Angela Damico at Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy in New Orleans!

We will work closely with Nurse Angie to provide her a more functional health room that serves her and her students. And, we will keep you updated on the progress along the way.

Here is an excerpt from the entry for Nurse Angie, submitted on her behalf by a colleague:

"Each morning Nurse Angie walks with her cooler to the cafeteria to carry ice back to her office, where she hands out ice packs for bumped heads and “magic” peppermints to settle upset stomachs. She has a continuous stream of customers with complaints ranging from coughs to splinters to bee stings. She administers ADHD, asthma, allergy and other every day prescription medications, and often can be heard calling parents and doctors to remind them to keep things up to date. She handles the many serious medical issues that crop up with our student population of nearly 800…juvenile diabetes, Sickle Cell Anemia, HIV, seizure disorders, psychiatric disorders. She races out of here when necessary to treat fight victims, evaluate sprains and falls and stabilize broken bones on the playground. In between all of these medical emergencies Nurse Angie calls parents to give them a “heads up” on what accident or illness has occurred at school today, or to tell them what to look out for if there has been a head injury.

She conducts hearing, vision and height/weight screenings, scoliosis screenings, brings in doctors and dentists to provide physicals or examinations for our high poverty student population. She prepares first aid kits for field trips and sporting events. She keeps track of immunizations and sports physicals, and each year must organize and file the most enormous mound of paperwork I have ever seen. She educates parents about the children’s medical conditions. She feeds hungry students and counsels those with eating disorders. She hosts children at lunchtime who are allergic to fish and sends out reminder emails to the staff about those allergies.

Nurse Angie does all of this cheerfully, never complaining about the shortage of outlets as she unplugs and re-plugs all of her necessary equipment into the overloaded extension cords. She has no privacy to give injections or examinations. She soothes the children with a pleasant “Oh, my Angel” so that they never complain about the large dents in the collapsing leather beds. Sometimes as I glance into her side of the room I am reminded of that scene in “Gone With the Wind” where all the soldiers are lined up laying on the ground…sometimes there are so many kids in the beds, chairs and in line to see her that I wonder how she keeps her patience.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy is located in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, LA. It was originally built in 1970 and operated as a public elementary school run by the Orleans Parish School Board. In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, damaging or destroying nearly all the 128 school buildings. The Eisenhower school building was wind-damaged, but not flooded, and closed for a time following Hurricane Katrina. It reopened as an open enrollment public charter school, and since that time the enrollment has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled. Conditions here at the school are extremely overcrowded and there is no money for building maintenance. The building has never been remodeled.

Nurse Angie needs privacy screens, lockable storage cabinets, file cabinets and a desk that lock, a hot water heater, an ice machine, more outlets, and new exam beds at the very least. Nurse Angie needs to know that someone cares about her as she is so busy caring for others."

Stay tuned for the “after” picture and update from Nurse Angie’s Ultimate Upgrade!


Posted in School Health