OC School Nurses Organization lauded for tireless leadership, resilience during pandemic

You might not know much about the Orange County School Nurses Organization, but over the course of the pandemic, this regional network of nursing professionals has worked tirelessly to keep local schools healthy and safe.

Partnering with the OC Health Care Agency, the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Health of Orange County, the OCSNO has hosted frequent webinars to break down county, state and federal guidance for its members, who’ve taken the information back to their campuses.

Orange County School Nurses Organization 2022 Community Champion of the Year graphic

The organization also regularly updated a decision tree for exposed and symptomatic students based on the latest isolation and quarantine protocols.

These efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. This month, the OCSNO was honored by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Orange County Chapter with its 2022 Community Champion Award.

“The Board recognizes the tireless leadership, flexibility, and resilience that our school nurses have demonstrated over the past 2 years, and how important their efforts have been to keep our OC students learning and staying healthy and safe in the process,” the AAP-OC wrote in an email to the OCSNO. “You and your colleagues have truly gone above and beyond in your capacity, often with little to no recognition. We at AAP-OC Chapter want to fix that!”

Pamela Kahn is the Orange County Department of Education’s coordinator of health and wellness, and she serves as OCDE’s liaison to the OCSNO. She said the organization existed long before COVID-19 to share information on new legislation and amplify best practices. The group would typically host two or three conferences a year with updates from expert speakers. It also sent out periodic newsletters.

But it took on an even larger role beginning in March 2020.

“School nurses very often work behind the scenes, and so to be recognized by such a prestigious group that we all have great respect for just validates all that we’re doing,” Kahn said of the AAP-OC recognition.

The Orange County School Nurses Organization is set to be formally recognized at the eighth annual Cards for Kids Gala and Fundraiser at Pretend City Children’s Museum on Saturday, April 23. The AAP-Orange County Chapter is also honoring Dr. Kate Williamson as its 2022 Pediatrician of the Year and Dr. Sharon Pham as its 2022 Young Physician of the Year.