- Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
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100 Percent of Diggs-Latham Students in Compliance with Health Requirements
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
NOVEMBER 5, 2020 – Thanks to the work of the Child and Family Support Team at Diggs-Latham Elementary, 100 percent of the school’s students are up to date on required immunizations and health assessments.
Diggs-Latham, which has about 550 students, is the first school in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system to reach that goal. It’s a goal that can be daunting any year and that is especially difficult these days.
Jennifer Corso, the school system’s Director of School Nursing, praised Kim Hall, the School Nurse at Diggs-Latham.
“It’s exceptional the dedication it has taken to reach that goal with the challenges of the pandemic,” Corso said.
“I am extremely proud of her.”
Hall said that, by no means, did she reach that goal on her own.
She and School Social Worker Cleopatra Morrison are members of the Child and Family Support Team, and they did their work with the support of others at the school, including the school’s interpreter, teachers, administrators.
“We work as a team with all of our families,” Hall said. “I can’t do it alone.”
In a normal school year, students in all schools are required to have their health requirements completed by the 30th day after the start of school. Because of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Roy Cooper has twice extended that deadline. It is now Dec. 30.
Hall is glad that all of their students meet the state requirements.
“It’s a huge relief because this is a daunting process,” she said. “It is every year. This year, it was compounded by the pandemic.”
“Again, it goes back to those open lines of communication and a team effort.”
Tricia McManus is the Deputy Superintendent for the school system.
“I am so impressed by the work of the Diggs-Latham team,” McManus said. “Working with families to get 100 percent compliance with health assessments and shot requirements is no easy task.”
“It shows the great connections our nurse, social worker, school leadership team, teachers, and staff have with the Diggs-Latham students and families. It also shows what can happen when you work together and prioritize student health and wellness.”
At the beginning of each school year, Hall said, she goes through the file of each student to see whether the student has the necessary immunizations and health assessments. If the child doesn’t, she follows up with parents to make sure they take care of whatever is necessary.
Along the way, she does whatever she can to support them. That means, if the family doesn’t have transportation for medical care, she puts everyone in her car and drives the family there.
She also makes sure that she is familiar with whatever health issues a child may have such as a chronic condition and issues with hearing or vision.
When a child moves here from another state, she also checks to make sure that the child has met the health requirements set by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
This year brought a raft of challenges. For one, with their children not coming to school, some parents were simply unaware of requirements.
Others didn’t realize that they could still take their child to a doctor or other health professional at the Public Health Department or the Bulldog Health Center that the School Health Alliance operates on the campus of Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle schools.
In some cases, it was also a challenge to get in touch with parents. When students were coming into the building, they could send home necessary information with students. And, if Hall found she didn’t have the current contact information she needed, she could walk down the hall and get it from the teacher or student.
This year, trying to get in touch with someone might require numerous phone calls and, in some cases, visits to the home with Morrison.
“We do all of our home visits together,” Hall said. “She would go with me to knock on doors that needed to be knocked on.”
If they discovered that a parent was most comfortable speaking Spanish, they would have someone at the school, such as Bilingual Parent Liaison Diane Castillo, provide Spanish/English translation on a speaker phone.
And, if the family no longer lived that the address the team had, they would have to do more work to find the family.
Hall joined the school system as a school nurse 10 years ago. She started at Konnoak Elementary and came to Diggs-Latham when the program moved there 7½ years ago.
It’s rewarding work, she said.
“I love the children and the families,” she said. “We develop strong relationships with our families.”
Diggs-Latham is one of seven WS/FC schools that have nurses who are school system employees. The others are Ibraham, Middle Fork and Walkertown elementary schools, Philo-Hill Magnet Middle, and Carver and Parkland high schools.
The other school nurses working with WS/FC students are employed by the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.
Before joining the school system, Hall worked as a critical care nurse at Novant’s Forsyth Medical Center.
Hall’s parents didn’t go to college, and, growing up, she set herself the goal of not only earning a bachelor’s degree but also earning a master’s degree. The demands of life meant that she didn’t earn the master’s degree right away. She is now working on her Master’s in the Science of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Doing that takes up many evening and weekend hours.
She and her husband, Sam, have two adult children. Levi has a Master’s in Accounting, and Noah is a sophomore in college.
Diggs-Latham is a great place to work, Hall said.
“We’re a family at Diggs-Latham.”
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