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— Kathy Henson, the new nurse at Decatur High School, has more than 30 years of experience as a registered nurse and a special place in her heart for children.

With the addition of Henson, the elementary school and high school will each have a full-time nurse. Jackie Eaton, who has worked as Decatur's school nurse for more than 25 years, will be working in the elementary school.

Over the course of her career Henson has worked in emergency rooms and intensive care units in the hospital, giving her plenty of experience handling emergencies, and she is very knowledgeable regarding immunizations and nutrition, having worked for the Benton County Health Department - all skills that will serve her well in her new position as school nurse.

Henson decided she wanted to become a nurse at age 12.

"I was ill as a child, and I had a nurse that was so good to me," Henson said with a smile. "I wanted to be just like her.

I never wanted to be anything but a nurse from that day on."

As the school nurse for grades six through 12, Henson will be doing screenings, such as scoliosis, vision and hearing, as well as taking care of sick or injured children, overseeing immunizations and teaching kids about wellness and nutrition.

"My heart goes out to kids who are sick or injured," she said.

In the next month she plans to begin teaching students how to prevent the spread of disease by washing hands and using safe practices for coughing and sneezing. She will also be placing bottles of hand sanitizer in each classroom.

Decatur school will be the first school in Benton County to have a flue clinic on Oct. 19 and 20. Parents will have the option to sign consent forms for their child to be vaccinated at school. Henson said she hopes the vaccine for the new H1N1 virus will be ready in time for Decatur's clinic.

Outside of her career, Henson enjoys doing stained-glass art and spending time with her grandchildren. She is very involved in the FirstBaptist Church in Gentry and has enjoyed going on several mission trips to Africa and South America.

Henson said this will be her first experience serving as a school nurse, and she is excited to learn the new aspects of her job. She said working as a school nurse will give her achance to learn more about screenings and to have summers off to spend time with her grandchildren.

"I'm excited to be here. I think this is going to be a great school year, and I appreciate people trusting me with their kids," Henson said.

News, Pages 1, 2 on 09/09/2009

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