Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Twenty-two school nurses from Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) have volunteered through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). They will help staff the Prince William Health District Call Center and provide other services as needed during the pandemic.
Sherrie Johnson is spokesperson and Prince William County’s director of communications. She said, “It is necessary to have a call center available to answer questions from residents. The goal is to keep people informed and provide necessary information to keep families safe and help alleviate fear. We are appreciative of all of the individuals volunteering to work in the call center.”
Diana Fening has been the school nurse at Occoquan Elementary School for about 18 years. She is answering phones two or three times per week. “It is hard to watch other nurses in the trenches and not be able to do something,” said Fening. “It is a great way to give back to the community.”
Patty Tipmongkol is a part-time support nurse who works in middle and high schools in PWCS. “I find it gratifying to help in any way possible,” she said. “Volunteering at the Prince William Health District call center is a wonderful way to connect with our community… [We] … provid[e]helpful guidance and reassurance at times. We are in this together.”
Kati Karamanis has been a nurse for PWCS for nine years, the past three at Freedom High School. “Being a nurse is not something that we do. It’s not a job that we have. It is who we are,” she said. “I cannot sit idly by and not try to support the community.”
Katharine O’Shea has been a nurse at Patriot High School for two years. She previously served two years as the nurse at Potomac High School. “In an emergency …, I think it is important to be able to use my skills to help my community however I can,” she said. “Seeing my fellow nurses dealing with this crisis makes me want to help more. We are all in this together, and we can get through this if we work together to help.”
Mar Tortajada has been the school nurse at Gainesville Middle School for the past three years. She worked for 25 years in a hospital setting before coming to Gainesville Middle. “I have chosen to volunteer … because I want to serve our health district population with my nursing and bilingual skills during this COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Charity Nwanevu is the school nurse for the Division’s newest school, John D. Jenkins Elementary School. She previously worked as the nurse at Woodbridge High School and C.D. Hylton High School. She has been a member of the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps for 10 years. “In the past 10 years, I have provided health education classes (CPR/BLS/First Aid) in the community…,” she said. “[Now], I’m participating in webinars, keeping in contact with nurses and making myself available for online services… [I’m] available for telehealth training for the health department and providers in the community that wish to initiate telehealth services.”
Tina Fairbanks has worked for PWCS for 18 years and has been the nurse at Battlefield High School since it opened in 2004. “I registered to volunteer… because I have a skill set that is needed …,” she said. “[Currently], I am … awaiting assignment/activation from the Greater Prince William Medical Reserve Corps. I’m ready and prepared to assist in anyway needed.”