Nurses have always played an important role in my life. My grandfather was the first male nurse at St. Vincent Hospital, and went on to become a physician. My Aunt Marion (Dr. Barber’s sister) was the Director of Nursing by day at St. Vincent, and at night was the caregiver of neighbors in need on Erie’s East side (then known as “Kingtown.”)
Aunt Marion was certainly a mentor for my late sister JoAnne, who knew that she wanted to be a nurse even as a preteen. To my Dad, a nursing degree meant that JoAnne could not go to St. Mary’s College, but she could go to Georgetown. JoAnne loved being the Litchfield school nurse, and often shared stories of helping children and families.
And so, as we celebrate Nurses Appreciation Week, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the Elizabeth Lee Black School nurses, Ellen Danowski and Kathy Babins. I know that we are fortunate to have such dedicated, caring nurses in our school. Ellie and Kathy can always be counted on to respond to student’s medical needs calmly, with expert nursing care and a smile.
ELBS is unique in that we educate students from 22 school districts, many of whom have multiple, complex disabilities that require specialized treatments. Some students have a seizure disorder, so we know that when we hear a “Code Red” – our nurses are responding to a call for emergency treatment. Of course, our nurses complete semi-annual height, weight, and eye assessments along with dental exams, in addition to the numerous demands throughout their day.
The health and safety of our children are paramount. Thus, our nurses constantly communicate with our team, our families and other medical providers to ensure continuity of care. When I asked Ellie and Kathy about their role at the ELBS, they commented:
“Working for the Elizabeth Lee Black School is one of the most rewarding career paths we have found in our nursing careers. Being able to support the students both physically and emotionally is just one small part of our job. Experiencing the love the children have to give make all the paperwork and hard days worth it. We try our best every day to make a positive difference in their lives.”
On behalf of our students and faculty, thank you Ellie and Kathy for everything you do to help make dreams come true for our children and their families.