JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Clad in red shirts and khakis, four senior Indiana University Southeast nursing majors waited in a classroom at Jeffersonville's Head Start center Wednesday— keeping an eye out for their next visitor.

They weren't standing by for long.

In walked Bethany Dickons and her daughter, Natalie Schoen, ready to get Schoen's height, weight, BMI and blood pressure examined.

Checkups are a requirement for Jeffersonville's Head Start program, which provides health, early-learning and other types of care to Pre-K children from low-income families. Four days this week, parents brought their kids to the Jeffersonville center to check the health requirement off of their to-do lists and to make sure that they finished the rest of the paperwork necessary to secure their child a spot in the federal program.

Just four years ago, however, Jeffersonville Head Start didn't have a summer screening week, instead hosting occasional screenings conducted by staff or sending parents to other health professionals.

That was before the nurses.

"They rock," said Debra Gaetano, Clark County's Head Start director. Because they're professionals, she added. "They know what they're doing."

Merry Striegel, the health and nutrition manager for Clark County Head Start, was one of two who introduced IUS nurses to the program in 2013, along with Jodi Henderson, an assistant clinical professor of nursing at the college.

Their professional — and voluntary — presence has helped Head Start's first-day attendance jump to 95 percent, Gaetano said.

"And that is huge," she said. "That is huge for a lot of programs."

Head Start isn't the only one gaining something from the summer screenings. The nurses get to flex their assessment skills, Henderson said.

That's not a chance Chelsea Fathauer gets often.

"It's kind of hit or miss when we go to clinicals," she said. "It's whether or not we have a patient that needs assessing with a certain different disease and what our nurse has on her hands. Whereas here we are devoting 25 hours this week to simply just serving the kids and assessing them and seeing what it's like for these people and what they go through just to get their kid an education."

She also enjoys giving back to the community and interacting with the people who come in.

"You can see just how proud some parents are in their eyes," she said "When they bring their kid in here and their kid sits down and they're so good. They parents are just like, 'ahh,' that's my kid."

Mayra Urquidi stood by as she watched Fathauer record her 3-year-old daughter, Scarlett Urquidi's weight and blood pressure.

Scarlett sat silently, but Mayra said that her daughter is excited to go to Head Start.

"I think it's a great place for the kids to get started in school," she said. "And I like it too because they have Spanish speakers."

Head Start helped her son, Christian, learn English. Scarlett already knows the language a little bit, but Mayra hopes she continues to improve.

If everything goes as planned, Scarlett will be one of the 250 children starting at Head Start in August.


Source: News and Tribune,


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.,