Kelly Henrichs has been an elementary school nurse in the Kansas City area since 2005. Her role extends beyond providing basic health services to educating her students and staff on preventative health measures and ensuring all students can succeed in the classroom. Read more for her perspective on healthy schools.
In my experience as an elementary school nurse, if students aren’t healthy they can’t learn. Though I take the steps to educate my students on preventative measures, the youngest among them, like kindergartners, don’t know better and spread their infections to others. One sick child could infect his or her classmates and disrupt their education.
However, illnesses and infections aren’t the only culprits holding my students back from learning. A student could be struggling in the classroom from something unnoticed by their parents or teachers. Something as simple as not being able to read the board could have major repercussions on their performance in class. What I want parents to know is that getting early intervention gives a child an advantage when it comes to learning. By having all our students’ vision screened early in the school year, we can address and prevent these challenges.
First Hand has been offering head-to-toe wellness screenings in our school for more than 10 years. It is the most amazing program. In just 20 minutes a student will have his/her health status evaluated with a report for the parents to follow up with a physician, if necessary. I am so happy to share that every single one of my students that failed their vision screening this year now have glasses!
This program gives a baseline health overview for the entire school, enabling me to work with teachers and families to ensure the students learn at their best. After the screening, I track every student that failed an aspect of the screening and follow up with parents to check that their child has received needed care.
Students may be referred to specialists due to the results of their screening, perhaps for a possible heart murmur or dental decay. It is reassuring to know that if the child’s parents need help getting access to care I can connect them back to First Hand for assistance. Just recently, I received a note from a student’s father. His child failed the dental screening, and they are going to request assistance from First Hand.
This screenings program provides peace of mind for not only me, but also for the entire school community. I love this program. I love what it has provided to my students and school.
Learn more about First Hand’s free wellness screenings program for elementary students!