Morton loves being a nurse for school students

(Editor's Note: American Education Week will be observed Nov. 11-17, 2001. This is an article on a member of the professional staff.)

By Bob Robinson

   There's more to being a nurse than meets the eye, especially if you have more than 2,300 patients.
   Lucy Morton, nurse with the Elizabethton School System, takes her work load in stride, however, while focusing on those things which keeps students healthy and happy.
   She's been on the job only two weeks and has already written an Occupational, Safety and Health Administration manual for Elizabethton City Schools.
   Previously, Ms. Morton was a staff nurse at Johnson City Medical Center for 10 years and clinical coordinator at First Choice Health Care Pediatric Associates three years.
   Dr. Judy Blevins, director of schools, said Ms. Morton is a valuable addition to the school team.
   "With Ms. Morton, we now have an extra pair of hands and medical expertise to assist the school safety committee, counselors and principals meet the health needs of students," Dr. Blevins said.
   "The Elizabethton School Board deserves the credit for having the vision and foresight to establish a systemwide school nurse position," Dr. Blevins added.
   Ms. Morton is working to ensure "a health system is in place which provides preventive, proactive and infection control measures which begins with hand washing techniques taught in kindergarten."
   Once a week, Ms. Morton plans to visit each of the five schools, plus the Cyclone Center pre-school, to provide medical information and advice. She will also be a liaison between students and their doctor, where necessary.
   Ms. Morton works with teachers and counselors to identify student learning problems caused by poor eyesight, poor hearing or attention deficit disorder, to mention a few.
   "We hope to prevent developmental delays through identification and early screening," Ms. Morton said.
   Screenings are done on a regular basis in each school. Referrals are made when needed.
   Vision screenings are done by Judy Alford, vision specialist with the school system.
   Hearing screenings are done by Kathy Berry, Pam Smith, Kim Pless and Ms. Alford.
   Dental screenings are arranged with the Carter County Health Department.
   What are the most common student illnesses in the Elizabethton School System?
   Allergies and asthma top the list. "We also have viruses, upset stomachs and an occasional sore throat or strep," Ms. Morton said.
   Self-administered prescription drugs are taken by students under the supervision of staff instructed in the proper use of the drug.
   The type of prescription drugs range from Ritalin, taken by a small number of students, to antibiotics, allergy medicine and ear drops, according to Ms. Morton.
   Medicines are locked up at school. Parents must bring the medication and complete a medication authorization form. Students come to the office to receive their medication.
   How sick must students be to stay home from school?
   Health/Illness Guidelines, published by Elizabethton City Schools, indicate students should not be in school if they have:
   A severe cold with sneezing and nasal drainage, undiagnosed skin rash, strep throat diagnosed by a physician, fever blister or skin infection, pink eye, head lice, bronchitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and roseola or running a fever or vomiting.
   There's a safety committee at each school. If there is an accident and a child breaks an arm or leg, (1) the injury will be assessed, (2) parents will be notified, (3) injury will be treated after consultation with parents and (4) Rescue Squad may be called or student transported to the hospital by parent, according to Ms. Morton.
   For preschoolers, Ms. Morton suggested scheduling a doctor's visit by the first of August to obtain required immunizations, which include DTP, polio, measles, rubella and mumps.
   What are your future plans?
   Arrange for staff at each school, first responders for the most part, to receive refresher training in CPR and First Aid, Ms. Morton said.
   "I love to work with children. The child is the number one priority of the Elizabethton City School System," Ms. Morton added.
   She and her husband, Ronnie, have a daughter, Kristie Cormany of Knoxville, and three grandsons, Samuel, Joshua and Noah. Kristie, a 1989 graduate of Elizabethton High School, received a doctorate of jurisprudence degree from the University of Tennessee.