For school health aides Patricia Teague-Jones and Vickie Eritano, it’s all about the kids. These passionate and hardworking “moms,” as they like to refer to themselves, go above and beyond the call of duty.
Stationed in the Akron inner-city school system, they understand students’ needs go beyond an ice pack here or a Band-Aid there. Sometimes they just need a hug, or sometimes they’re hungry and just want a snack. They treat “their kids” as if they were their own.
“Sometimes all they want is a Band-Aid and some attention,” said Eritano, medical assistant at Akros Middle School and the Edge Academy Elementary School in downtown Akron. “You’re like a mom, and I mother well.”
“They like attention and need a hug,” she said. “It could be anything from giving them clean socks to new shoes to crackers if they haven’t eaten anything.”
As employees of Akron Children’s School Health Services, their main responsibilities include making sure students receive the right medications and dosage at the right time.
They also treat children for injuries, such as scrapes, bumps or sprained ankles that happen on the playground or sudden illnesses that erupt during class time.
Most recently, Eritano and Teague-Jones completed vision and hearing screenings for kids, as required by the state of Ohio.
“You have to love kids, you have to love people and you can’t be squeamish,” Eritano said. “It takes a lot of patience and flexibility because you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next.”
Eritano, who has served in various schools for Children’s since 2006, begins her day at Akros Middle School.
She has two students with diabetes, Torie and Camille, who require medication each morning. Today, she helps Camille dial her pen for an insulin shot.
She then heads over to Edge Academy next door, where 3 of her students require morning meds. While attending to Durrell who has ADHD, Naomi rushes in with a scratch on her hand asking for a Band-Aid.
Once Durell has taken his medicine and Naomi is cleaned up, she quickly sends them back to class.
“It’s the human contact. It’s everything I do,” Eritano said of her favorite part about taking care of the nearly 400 kids between the two schools. “I like the medical aspect of it. That’s the only thing I can say. I love what I do.”
Teague-Jones also begins her day by doling out daily medications for students with various conditions, including diabetes, ADHD and asthma.
She makes it a habit to teach her kids the names of their medications, what the pills look like and how to take them properly. That way, if she’s absent for any reason, they know what to do.
Today, Ahlia, Javon and Jamiraz are waiting patiently in her office to take their inhalers for asthma. As she’s taught them well, Javon jumps over to the sink to first wash his hands.
“You’re not scrubbing for surgery,” laughs Teague-Jones, who graduated as a nursing assistant in the mid-‘80s and worked in private practice before joining Schumacher in 1999.
She carefully takes Javon through the steps of administering the medicine and slowly breathing it in through the spacer.
Teague-Jones jots down notes in a binder to document each child who visits her office and takes their medication. She then sends a clinic slip home with every child to keep parents in the loop.
“It’s the students. I’ve seen them grow up here and graduate and have kids of their own,” said Teague-Jones of what makes her want to get up in the morning and come to work. “I’m an empty-nest mother, so they are like my children.”