MPS health, social services director works to keep students healthy

Julia Price recalled using her contacts to help offer immunizations at the 7th and 8th Grade Academy when the school year started.

“The principal contacted me concerned that, because of COVID-19 and the health department being backed up with their well-child appointments, upcoming seventh-grade students may not have received their Tdap immunization prior to schools starting,” said Price, Muskogee Public Schools new health and social services director.

She said she worked with the Caring Van Foundation to bring a mobile vaccination clinic to the Academy Aug. 28 and 31. All Oklahoma seventh-graders must have the Tdap, a combination vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Price, a registered nurse, said such collaboration is part of her duties as district health and social services director. She was Broken Arrow Public Schools health care coordinator before MPS hired her in July.

“My role is to oversee and manage best health practices for Muskogee Public School students and staff,” she said. “This includes training basic safety and health care procedures to designated on-site staff, maintaining and creating plans of care for students with medical alerts, updating and creating health care policy and procedures for the district, collaboration with Muskogee County Health Department, American Red Cross, Oklahoma Caring Van among other health care facilities that help support health care at MPS.”

Muskogee School Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said Price’s hiring was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But we had a district nurse position that had been unfilled for over a year,” he said.

Price said her biggest challenge at MPS is being the only registered nurse working for MPS, as well as “navigating the numerous preventive measures necessary promoting health and safety, which now includes COVID-19.”

She said a school nurse sometimes is the only health care a child receives.

She said collaborating with the Caring Van Foundation proved successful at the 7th and 8th Grade Academy. The Caring Van administered approximately 70 immunizations and helped nearly 40 students and families, she said.

“We plan to continue to utilize their service for all the schools,” Price said, adding that she had worked with Caring Van when she was at Broken Arrow.