Pott. County nurse selected for CDC program

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
South Pottawatomie Coordinated School Health Team Nurse Ruby Redfield.

South Pottawatomie Coordinated School Health Team Nurse Ruby Redfield, BSN, RN is one of 14 nurses across the state selected for the Centers for Disease Control’s Strengthening Wellness and Improving Teachers and Children’s Health (SWITCH) one year project.

According to Redfield, project SWITCH is designed to help schools in the county adjust to the difficulties of COVID-19 as well as offer guidance in the areas of physical activity, chronic disease management, social emotional climate, nutrition services and supporting high risk or vulnerable populations.

Redfield said this year will mark her forty fifth year as a nurse. She said during her career she served as a public health nurse through the Pottawatomie County Health Department.

“I went ahead and retired from the health department (in September) because I am 66-years-old but I’m committed to helping my schools,” Redfield said.

While she’s retired from the health department, Redfield said she wants to continue her work at various districts and communities in the county.

For seven years Redfield has been a part of the South Pottawatomie County Partners in Caring Initiative and she serves as a traveling school nurse for Asher, Maud and Macomb schools.

The nurse said her work through Project SWITCH will allow her to continue helping schools and students.

“Everything that it talks about in Project SWITCH are the goals of a coordinated school health team,” Redfield said.

According to Beverly Burk, RN, President of the School Nurse Organization of Oklahoma, Project SWITCH is a one-year supplemental program from the CDC with the goal of providing training and assistance to schools.

Redfield said Terry Grissom, Superintendent at Asher Public Schools has taken a lead role in support of this project along with Brandy Smith, Executive Director of Youth and Family Resource Center of Shawnee.

“Ruby has seen it all during her career in nursing. She loves the kids and they all love Nurse Ruby,” Grissom said. “It is so nice to be able to get her advice or suggestions when we have medical concerns or questions.”

Redfield said she will continue working part time as the Coordinated School Health Team Nurse and her work with Project SWITCH will be carried out once a week at the Youth and Family Resource Center of Shawnee.

According to Smith, Redfield’s advice and knowledge will be valued as she works on Project SWITCH.

“Ruby brings a lot of experience in her new role in the community,” Smith said. “She had a lot of experience in the private and in the hospital sectors before she was hired through the health department.”

Smith said Redfield helped create school nursing programs in both Lincoln County  and Pott. County.

“This transition into this new role will really help the community be healthier and create COVID sensitive environments and help with contagious disease control. She's perfect for that role,” Smith said.

As part of Project SWITCH, Redfield will attend monthly meetings and receive and provide additional training throughout the project.

A region of the state will be assigned to each member of Project SWITCH and Redfield will conduct virtual Communities of Practice meetings with those schools who participate.

The goal will be to disseminate CDC information, provide professional support and share best practices to individuals and school leadership in her assigned region.

“During this pandemic (Redfield) will provide support to school nurses on the management of chronic health conditions and physical education,” Grissom said. “She will be a resource on how to safely conduct physical education during COVID.”

Ongoing support is provided by the OSDE leadership Shana Classen, M, Ed Director Health and Physical Education.

Redfield said this is an exciting opportunity to support public health in county school communities.