Kent City — A mom and nurse with deep ties to the district has been hired to work full-time helping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Kristy Vogel, and husband, Jason Vogel, who serves the district as athletic director and vice principal of the high school, have three children in Kent City Schools.
“I am very fortunate to have this opportunity. I was interested in doing something new to help out at the schools,” said Vogel, who was active teaching and coaching swimming before the district closed the pool earlier this school year.
She holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing through the University of Detroit Mercy/Aquinas College. She began her career as a registered nurse in hospitals and inpatient care, working mostly in oncology and medical-surgical departments, and previously worked as a home health nurse.
The district received about $2 million — or approximately $16 per student — of a $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) bill that passed in March.
The funds are restricted to pandemic-related expenses, including personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies, online learning technology and ventilation upgrades.
Vogel’s home base is at the elementary school, but she regularly visits both the middle and high schools. She evaluates students who feel sick or have symptoms, and helps families and staff understand whether they should be tested for COVID-19.
Acting as a liaison between the school district and the Kent County Health Department, she heads up contact tracing and helps parents and staff understand safety and health protocols.
“I am definitely seeing an up-tick in the community right now,” she said. “But most exposures are linked to outside the school. Most that we’ve seen have stemmed from parents getting tested and then students having to quarantine.”
She also spends time educating the community about coronavirus symptoms.
Jordan Stuhan, middle/high school principal, said “Having a nurse has definitely been an asset. If it wasn’t for having Kristi, all of these protocols would have been left up to me and that would have been quite a burden. First, I am not a healthcare professional and two, my day is already filled with plenty of other things.”
Elementary Principal Pam Thomas called the addition of a nurse “a game-changer for the school, not just because we have a nurse, but because of who she is.”
“Kristi is knowledgeable, able to work with staff and parents (and) she knows our community well,” Thomas said. “Without her work we likely would have had to have our administrative staff try to understand and implement protocols. She has been an invaluable resource to us.”
Having a nurse on staff has benefits other than those related to COVID concerns. Recently, a student was diagnosed with epilepsy and Vogel helped put together a plan for making sure all of the staff was ready to handle potential seizure activity.
“She has done a wonderful job of keeping our staff informed,” Stuhan said.