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Appo nurses donating their supplies to first responders

Amanda Parrish * Delaware
aparrish@doverpost.com
Middletown Transcript

Appoquinimink School District nurses have been collecting medical supplies, educating students and signing up with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, since March 21, to help the community during the ongoing national crisis.

Yvonne Camac, lead nurse, said all 20 nurses in the district contribute in some way and has made this stressful time easier for her and the community.

“Our school nurses are amazing. Everyone has stepped up and taken an active role in doing all of this,” she said. “It can be difficult, but we all work together and that’s how we get through it.”

Helping first responders

Amid the shortage of medical supplies, the school nurses gathered the surplus from their own shelves — masks, sterile gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, personal protective equipment — to donate to DEMA, hospitals and nursing homes.

Appoquinimink Preschool Center nurse Aimee Hastings has been leading the collection. She said it is important to take care of the healthcare providers who are taking care of everyone else.

“We weren’t prepared for this. No one was,” she said. “I saw all of this medical supplies and equipment that was just sitting there in the schools. The products could be replaced but the lives couldn’t.”

Camac, who worked for ChristianaCare for more than 20 years, said all school nurses have come from the hospital setting and many still work at one part time.

“That is our original home,” she said. “We understand it, we empathize and we like to do anything we can to help them. We’ve all been there.”

Hastings worked at Christiana Hospital in the adult medicine unit for 10 years. As someone who knows how bad it can get when people get the flu, she can’t imagine what healthcare workers are going through right now.

“We just want to do our part and help as much as we can since we can’t be on the front lines with them,” Hastings said.

Camac said all school nurses statewide have received requests from DEMA to sign up in case of healthcare worker shortages.

“Several of our nurses signed up,” she said. “Thankfully, no one has been called to action yet.”

Superintendent Matt Burrows said he is proud of the nurses for their willingness to help.

“Not only are they caring for our kids at our schools, but they care what’s happening outside of school,” he said. “I think it’s just phenomenal and shows their character and who they are.”

Although Appoquinimink has donated all the supplies they can, Hastings said they want to collect more from the Middletown community until the shortage subsides.

Those who would like to donate can email Hastings at aimee.hastings@appo.k12.de.us.

Remote work

The nurses can’t meet with their students in person, but they are still teaching students about staying healthy and safe.

Hastings said she has been making videos for the kids about germ exposure and hand washing.

“I can go into Zoom meetings with the kids and talk to them,” the preschool center nurse said. “I am still able to talk to the kids about staying safe during this pandemic, just in a different way.”

Camac said Appo is collaborating with the Department of Health and Social Services for continuing education and figuring out what public health changes the schools will need for when students return.

“We aren’t having that face-to-face contact, but we are still working every day to keep things in order for our return and also planning for what that return is going to look like,” she said.