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ASD honors school nurses to commemorate 125th anniversary of DAR Hospital Corps

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Megan Wallgren | Touriddu

Alpine School District honored 33 nurses serving schools throughout the district on Monday in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Hospital Corps, also known as the DAR Army Nurse Corps.

Gale Keeler, historian of the Pony Express Chapter of the DAR and ASD school nurse, spearheaded the event. Though school nurses play a less prominent role in today’s education system, Keeler said they are still vital to the well-being of students across the district.

“They are medical instruments that people can go to for the know-hows, the what-ifs, and the resources needed to assist students to be successful in school,” Keeler said.

The Pony Express DAR chapter wanted a way to celebrate the founding of the DAR Army Nurse Corps and thought there was no better way than to honor nurses. School nurses often fly under the radar compared to other first responders.

Keeler said school nurses manage the health care concerns of students and manage the health offices at the schools. They manage individual health care plans so teachers know student health needs – anything from allergies to ADHD – and provide care for the students. They also help train school personnel in basic first aid.

“Nurse-themed gift boxes were given to each of the district’s 33 nurses at an honoring ceremony on Monday, Nov. 6. A certificate of appreciation also was presented to Kim Lowe, the Alpine School District Nursing Supervisor: the general behind this modern army,” said Keeler.

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“The nurses are extremely humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Lowe. “Many people don’t understand the role of school nurses. We provide a lot of care to students and communities.”

Lowe said each nurse is assigned to care for students from three to five schools.

“It’s important to be aware of what we do in the school setting. Healthy children learn better. That’s our role, prevention and assisting in keeping children healthy so they can stay in school,” Lowe said.

The DAR Army Nurse Corps was founded on April 28, 1898, at the onset of the Spanish-American War. Coupled with overwhelming outbreaks of typhoid, malaria and yellow fever, the U.S. Surgeon General requested and promptly received congressional authority to appoint women nurses under contract. The DAR acted as an application review board for military nursing services. Women nurses under contract received $30 a month plus a daily ration. Hundreds of women applied.

According to Keeler, prior to this, nursing as a full-time profession was virtually nonexistent in the United States. Although the war lasted less than four months, the founding of the DAR Hospital Corps marked the beginning of the practice of women as professional nurses.

“While school nurses may not be army nurses, they are a regiment of educated, professional healthcare workers who manage, lead and set the example for an army of students in a

war against various public health diseases and safety concerns,” said Keeler.

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