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Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey School-based Nurse Practitioner Program

A grant from The Horizon Foundation places bilingual nurse practitioners in schools, where they provide often-crucial health care services and education.

John, an eighth-grader, had a history of mild asthma, for which he took medication. One day at school, he began experiencing shortness of breath. He went to the school nurse, who tried to reach his parents while his pulse dropped and he continued to wheeze. Ultimately, he was rushed to the Emergency Room.

Catherine Donahue, a nurse practitioner at John’s school, didn’t want to see that happen to him again. She did follow-up work with John and his family to help prevent future attacks. She made sure they all knew how to use medication properly, keep prescriptions filled and other ways to keep the asthma under control.

Ms. Donahue is part of a School-based Nurse Practitioner Program from the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Central Jersey. Through a generous grant from The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, the program places nurses in numerous schools throughout Monmouth County and Ocean County. These bilingual nurses provide diagnostic, acute and preventive care, while also teaching disease prevention and health literacy at workshops for students and families. It’s all part of The Horizon Foundation’s dedication to supporting organizations that make New Jersey healthier.

Nurse Practitioners can save lives, and they can also change them. Ms. Donahue describes an 8-year old student, Dulce, who began to get warts on her hands. When other students started making fun of her, Dulce tried to protect herself by hiding her hands, but the bullying grew worse. A doctor referred her family to a dermatologist, but they couldn’t find one in their health plan. That’s where Ms. Donahue stepped in to fill the gap.

She treated Dulce’s hands at school and showed the student’s mother how to continue the treatment at home. One day, an excited Dulce bounced into Ms. Donahue’s office to show off her fingernails. The warts were gone, but more importantly, Dulce was sporting the blush pink nail polish Ms. Donahue had given her.

It was a true measure of success for Ms. Donahue and the vital work she performs.