The Unique Nursing Department at P.G. Chambers School
By Janet Michalowski, RN, BSN, CSN
When asked, “What ﬁeld of nursing are you in?” the answer to that question is, “I am a school nurse” but I quickly add “for children with multiple disabilities.” P.G. Chambers School nurses are unique on many levels. We are a staﬀ of four full-time nurses, each working at the school on a daily basis, and you will rarely ﬁnd all of us in the nursing office at once. Our day is spent treating the students in their educational environment. We administer more than 65 daily treatments, which include gastrostomy tube feedings, medication administration, and respiratory treatments. Many of our students have seizures and several require management on a daily basis. We are always available to the staﬀ through our “555” phone, overhead page, or walkie talkies. We assist all teachers, staff, and therapists in understanding the students’ medical challenges by providing information during morning meetings and support throughout the day. We work closely with parents to provide a true team approach.
Health and safety is a primary responsibility of the Nursing department, monitoring monthly ﬁre and security drills, incident/accident reports, and all infection control. We are teachers and welcome visits from nursing students at Ramapo College and Rutgers University as part of their Pediatric rotations. Medical students and Residents from Morristown Medical Center tour the school as part of their neuro-developmental experience. We enjoy sharing our experience with the next generation of medical providers.
Dr. JenFu Cheng, a physiatrist from Children’s Specialized Hospital, is part of our oﬃce 8 times per year. He does all of our scoliosis screenings twice a year. During his other visits, he examines 5-6 students in the presence of their parents and therapists.
We also welcome little visitors from Kids Count Child Care for temp checks, falls, bumped heads, cold packs, and skinned knees, to name a few. Staﬀ will visit for various ailments and yes, they even get sent home! Last but not least, we supervise the private duty nurses for some of our students, teach adolescent health, and we even put on Band-Aids!
Our work is challenging as we manage the health and well-being of all of our students but there is joy in knowing the impact we make every day so students can actively participate despite their medical challenges. Families know that we are their partners in providing a safe environment for their children to continue to grow. The nurses at P.G. Chambers School are proud to nurture and care for our students as they learn, grow, and achieve their unique potential.