Thrive by IU Health

September 19, 2019

School nurse – A one-person clinic that cares for kids

School nurse – A one-person clinic that cares for kids

On any given day, Tiffany Lindsay never knows who will walk through her door – an eight-year-old with asthma, or a seven-year-old who lost a tooth. It keeps her on her toes.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tjbanes@iuhealth.org.

She’s a mom, she studied child development in college, and she later became a nurse working in adult trauma care.

Those qualifiers alone could put Tiffany Linsday at the head of the class as a school nurse. But she’s learned over time there are no two patients alike – especially in a school that represents 17 different countries, 12 different languages, and a large population of students who receive free and reduced lunches.

On any given day she can see as many as 150 students. Their needs include diabetic blood checks, asthma treatments, and first aid for scrapes and cuts.

Lindsay began working for IU Health in 2006 as a unit secretary. After high school she attended Purdue University studying child development but eventually felt it wasn’t her calling. At IU Health her co-workers encouraged her to go back to school for her nursing degree. She completed her degree in 2017 and began working at IU Health Methodist Hospital with adult trauma critical care patients.

A back injury lead to on-the-job restrictions and when she could no longer lift patients, she began searching for alternate paths to pursue a career she loves. Married to Nathan Lindsay for 20 years, the couple has three children attending Washington Township Schools – Adeline, a junior and Gavin a freshman at North Central High School and Garrett a first-grader at Allisonville Elementary.

IU Health provides 12 nurses throughout Washington Township Schools – including eight elementary schools, a developmental preschool and three middle schools.

Lindsay works at Fox Hill Elementary in an office that displays a poster of a hand-drawn roll of Lifesavers and several colorful candies. The sign reads: “Mrs. Lindsay, thank you for taking such good care of us. You’re a lifesaver.” The rest of her office is decorated in bright colors – encouraging students to eat a rainbow of colors. She changes the theme throughout the year to drive home other messages: Heart health, appropriate sleep and summer safety.

On any given day, her office is a flurry of activity. She answers the phone “Good Morning, Fox Hill clinic,” and proceeds to answer parent questions. One student comes in with a tooth that has just fallen out. Lindsay helps her wash up and then places the tooth in a necklace, puts the necklace around the little girl’s neck and sends her on her way. There are other students who come in regularly for blood sugar checks and asthma treatments. A teacher comes in to have a burn bandaged.

To keep track of the youngsters in her care, Lindsay keeps a notebook and also records activity electronically. At the end of last year, the notebook was so full she couldn’t close it.

“It’s just like nursing at a hospital – you triage with ABC – airway, breathing and circulation,” said Lindsay, who also spends a lot of time talking with parents and helping educate them when a child has a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes. With 100 fewer students in the school this year, she’s not as busy as the previous year but there is limited downtime.

“We want the kids to be successful. When you get medicine from the drugstore they don’t give it to you in Burmese or Swahili. We have a very diverse student population here so I spend a lot of time working with parents and helping them understand their child’s ongoing cough is not just a cough, it’s symptoms of asthma,” said Lindsay. All the school nurses work closely with IU Health’s Rebecca West, the district manager to help connect families with additional resources. “If I have ten kids I’m worried about, she knows all ten kids,” said Lindsay. If the family needs to see a specialist such a pulmonologist, the nurses help connect them and refer them to IU Health physicians.

The nurses meet twice yearly to talk about primary concerns such as allergies. Many students have never been exposed to certain foods and parents aren’t familiar with allergies. The nurses often become the first line of contact.

“I’ve had parents bring younger siblings in. We joke that it’s like urgent care. Parents have me look at something on them because they have nowhere else to go. As a nurse you get asked a lot of questions,” said Lindsay. She takes it all in stride and manages her day with a cadence filled with smiles and words of encouragement.

Fox Hill Elementary serves children in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Lindsay’s goal is to help the older students – with chronic conditions - learn to manage their treatments. Last year she had 60 scheduled medicines and treatments a day – every one of them organized in a secure file cabinet. The same cabinet houses a red medic bag that she grabs every time there is a fire drill or emergency. She is ready for whatever comes her way.

Each Friday she gives out prizes to the students who have ongoing medications. They are rewarded for their compliance at a time in their lives that they’d rather be playing with friends and ignoring treatments.

“It’s not always fun being called out of class for meds. I have students with diabetes who have to miss gym if their sugar levels are too high and I have students with asthma who can’t go outside if the temperature is above 80 or below 40. That’s a lot of time they spend in my office,” said Lindsay. To help them pass the time she provides books and drawing materials and sometimes employs their help making ice packs. Her prize box is filled with stuffed animals, pencils, books and bracelets.

When a little girl fell and broke her arm last year, it was one of those stuffed animals that helped soothe her until her parent arrived at school.

Lindsay has also used the prizes to motivate students with difficult health issues. Last year she helped nurse a young student who was born prematurely and was underweight. He just wasn’t eating and his mom often called or sent text messages to Lindsay seeking advice.

“My goal was to encourage him to eat and by the end of the year he was eating chicken nuggets and pizza. He’d gained eight pounds,” said Lindsay. She works closely with teachers and the school social worker in situations where student conditions are more than just a scrape from a playground fall. She even keeps a box of clothes for when a child needs a quick change.

“That mom instinct comes out a lot. When I have a student coming in frequently with an upset stomach, I start asking questions about a break up with a boyfriend or what’s going on at home,” said Lindsay. When a student complains of heartburn she asks what he ate on his way to school. All students receive free breakfasts at Fox Hill but there are always backpack snacks that they grab from home.

“A big one is those hot Cheetos and corn chips. When they eat those we might Google heartburn and then have a full conversation about healthy snack choices,” said Lindsay. “We look at the lunch menu together and I help guide them to make the best choices.”

In addition to the daily care of the students, Lindsay arranges vision screenings with the Lions Club for third- and fifth-graders and any other student recommended by staff members. She also coordinates a visit by a mobile dentist, Big Smiles.

“We have so many who need these services. Last year we had them once, this year my goal is every six months,” said Lindsay. The dental care includes cleanings and she is working to also get fillings for the students. “Last year we had kids referred for root canals. Can you imagine sitting in class and trying to learn and being in so much pain and then trying to eat a healthy lunch of carrot sticks and still feeling the pain,” said Lindsay.

She sees her role as not only a caregiver, but also a nurturer. Like the teachers in her building, Lindsay doesn’t clock out when the buses leave for the day.

“I absolutely love this job and connecting to the kids. I am here to help them learn by managing their physical health – that impacts so many areas of their lives,” said Lindsay. “Last year we had 800 students and I could call 700 of them by their name. Either I had seen them in the clinic or I knew their face. They all mean the world to me.”

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

Latest Stories

Filter from

January 11, 2021 IU Health COVID-19 Data IU Health is committed to being a trusted source of information for the public during t... January 08, 2021 Chief Nursing Officer receives DNP Marilyn Riley, vice president and chief nursing officer at IU Health Frankfort, recentl... January 08, 2021 IU Health Arnett Hospital announces retirement of President Daniel Neufelder, FACHE, president of Indiana University Health Arnett and the West Cen... December 20, 2020 She’s a respiratory therapist with asthma, and she’s on the front lines Jody White didn’t have to treat COVID-positive patients at Methodist Hospital, but opti... December 18, 2020 Physicians implore their communities to take COVID vaccine when it's time IU Health infectious disease physicians from around the state feel confident in taking ... December 17, 2020 IU Health begins COVID-19 vaccines: 'Light at the end of a very long tunnel' IU Health took possession of the first COVID-19 vaccines in central Indiana on Wednesda... December 17, 2020 Coping with Grief and Loss This Holiday Season The holiday season is often a time of year in which a wide range of emotions can arise.... December 17, 2020 Behavioral health numbers up; Fighting holiday stress during a pandemic The past year has been filled with anxiety, disappointment, and heartache. Never has it... December 16, 2020 Veteran nurse: ‘I can’t tell you how hard it is to see that lonely patient in bed’ For more than two decades she’s sat at the bedside of her patients. Now, IU Health Nurs... December 15, 2020 ‘Baskets of Cheer’ boost front-line teams During a stressful day, a quick cup of coffee or snack can make a big difference, espec... December 15, 2020 New program allows patients to heal at home In April, when the impact of the pandemic began to hit home, IU Health had an idea to h... December 15, 2020 COVID-19 vaccine: Freezers ready to store; Staff ready to administer first doses It’s been a long time coming but now, a new vaccine is making its debut in the fight ag... December 14, 2020 Steps to Eating Healthy at Home It may be an understatement to say that the year 2020 has been quite the whirlwind. The... December 13, 2020 First patient who received COVID-fighting infusion: ‘Hardest part was the needle’ When she signed up to receive a new monoclonal antibody to help ward off her symptoms o... December 12, 2020 Wigs can help cancer patients feel sense of control When you combed or brushed your hair this morning, you likely didn’t think much about h... December 11, 2020 Watch: IU Health experts answer COVID-19 vaccine questions With COVID-19 vaccine approval just around the corner, IU Health experts address a numb... December 10, 2020 Generational Trauma: Breaking the Cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences How Our Understanding of ACEs Provides Better Healing Care for Adults “The child is th... December 10, 2020 First a Riley patient; Now at 25, athlete is a patient at IU Health Simon Cancer Center At the age of three he became a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. No... December 09, 2020 COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Indiana and across the country, a ray of hope exists... December 09, 2020 IU Health vascular team’s phone app focuses on blood clots and COVID patients As health care providers piece together the impact of the deadly coronavirus, a team of... December 08, 2020 Indiana University Health Arnett welcomes new Chief Nursing Officer, Allison Shuttz, MSN, RN, NE-BC Allison Shuttz, MSN, RN, NE-BC, has been appointed Chief Nursing Officer for Indiana Un... December 08, 2020 For two years, this young mom could not speak Her 2-year-old was just a baby when Maranda Slusser stopped talking. Two more children ... December 04, 2020 Tranquility Spaces Provide a Respite For Frontline Team Members Sometimes even heroes need a break … a chance to slow down, take a breath, gather their... December 03, 2020 Hospital chaplain: From bedside compassion to hospitalized care She’s sat at the bedside of new moms and patients undergoing radiation therapy. She’s a... December 02, 2020 “I thank God I’ve come through it” As a COVID-19 “long hauler,” Sarah Hagan found help through IU Health’s Convalescing CO... December 02, 2020 She cares for patients with COVID and carries on her mother’s legacy Her mother worked for IU Health, and for two decades this nurse has followed in her foo... November 30, 2020 Calling a Code Lavender If you’ve watched a hospital-based television show, you’ve probably seen the following ... November 30, 2020 Hospital workers – Giving hearts on holidays and every day They work tirelessly every shift, every day. Most never anticipated living through a pa... November 29, 2020 He was looking for a liver giver and she delivered Wayne Brown posted on Facebook that he needed a new liver. A long-time friend saw his p... November 24, 2020 IU Health Frankfort Hospital now open The new IU Health Frankfort Hospital is open and ready to serve you. A fence around the... November 24, 2020 Nurse down 75 pounds: ‘Self-care is vital, especially during a pandemic’ As a progressive critical care nurse, Kristy Fields sees many patients treated for symp... November 23, 2020 Q4 2020 Quarterly Report: COVID-19 brings community together, while social distancing Crystal Hinson Miller, chief philanthropy officer for Indiana University Health and pre... November 23, 2020 Father of five girls gets wish with hospital bedside wedding Seven weeks ago, Matthew Rynearson was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor. When he e... November 20, 2020 Transplant Gratitude Triggers $1 Million in Funding Technically, Jerome Josephs received a kidney when he underwent a transplant at IU Heal... November 19, 2020 In the Midst of a Pandemic, Three Foundation Team Members Achieve International Certification Diane Buzzell, Julie Paolillo and Kate Konzen have several new letters after their name... November 19, 2020 Rock band member chooses IU Health for testicular cancer treatment Minnesota native Ryan Keyes came to Indianapolis to play drums in a rock band. Now, he’... November 18, 2020 Offering help to go tobacco-free during COVID-19 People who are tobacco users and who vape have a higher chance of getting COVID-19. IU ... November 17, 2020 How to Stay Safe & Healthy This Holiday Season With COVID-19 cases surging across the state, it may be time to rethink your traditiona... November 17, 2020 Long-time nurse known for educating the next generation of nurses She has been at the bedside of countless patients – the sickest of the sick, and Marcia... November 15, 2020 Father Donates Kidney to Young Son: “It’s a Huge Sigh of Relief” By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org It was in her 20th we... November 13, 2020 Double transplant patient on quest to educate young adults with diabetes Even before his first transplant, Mike Davis knew the importance of self-care for diabe... November 12, 2020 How to Cope with Holiday & COVID-19 Stress With COVID-19 cases on the rise and the holidays around the corner, you may be feeling ... November 12, 2020 Lung cancer patient, non-smoker: ‘Anyone with lungs can get cancer’ It started with a mild cough that wouldn’t go away. Now Shauna Dalton is taking meds tw... November 11, 2020 Veteran’s Day – A family legacy for IU Health doctor IU Health Dr. Kevin Rice talks about his journey to the medical field and his service i... November 10, 2020 Nurse who had COVID-19: “The positive is I can donate plasma to help others” The numbers are the highest they have been in months. COVID-19 continues to be a deadly... November 09, 2020 TCC Gives’ donated iPads help IU Health patients and families connect The isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavily on everyone, but it ... November 08, 2020 ‘Hospital at home’ patient: ‘They spoiled me. I couldn’t have asked for better care’ In April, IU Health launched a program for ill COVID-19 patients that allowed them to r... November 05, 2020 New glucose management option helps COVID-19 patients Since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have learned th... November 02, 2020 Risky tumor removal threatened patient's ability to talk & swallow Daniela Gomez started experiencing severe headaches when she was 14 years old. For six ... November 01, 2020 First Altruistic Living Liver Transplant at IU Health After 10 years with an autoimmune liver disease, Matthew Prather was told it was time f... October 29, 2020 A look back at LifeLine rescue of crash victim: “A life-defining moment” It was in the early morning hours when LifeLine flight nurse Mike Collins was summoned ... October 28, 2020 First living liver recipient: Three months later and patient enjoys new life When Kelly Kinkade’s health began to decline, she turned to IU Health’s top-ranked tran... October 26, 2020 3 Healthcare Topics Every Hoosier Should Know About Before They Vote As we approach Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3, healthcare continues to rank high on ju... October 25, 2020 He thought he had COVID-19; Nurse practitioner suspected something else Ryan Gillen is beyond grateful. He says one special nurse who discovered his illness, i... October 22, 2020 Cancer patient, 28: ‘People say 2020 has been bad, but for me it’s a blessing’ He’s young, launching his professional career and he’s facing the challenges of a cance... October 22, 2020 For this student nurse, COVID unit has helped her grow PCA Kate Davenport: “It’s so important to meet people where they are and offer support,... October 21, 2020 Grant Expands Dementia-Support Services in Southern Indiana “It really does take a village when it comes to dementia care,” said Dayna Thompson, an... October 21, 2020 What Characteristics are the Most Important Part of a Safe & Effective Weight Loss Program? In today’s digital age, you can find weight loss plans everywhere. From diet pills that... October 20, 2020 This doctor has a reason to be a real man wearing pink Each year, the American Cancer Society raises money and awareness for breast cancer wit... October 15, 2020 Elementary teacher, 28, diagnosed with breast cancer Both her grandmothers had breast cancer, but Sarah Clark had no reason to believe her d... October 14, 2020 When Minutes Count: Know Risk Factors for Stroke Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and is a leading cause of long-term disabili... October 14, 2020 Putting on the White Coat: Celebrating an IU School of Medicine Bicentennial Scholar Image courtesy of IU School of Medicine Where once walked a scribe, following doctors ... October 13, 2020 Infant Loss: Two Mothers Open their Arms to Those who suffer Two Nurses at IU Health Arnett both suffered the loss of their precious newborns. Their... October 12, 2020 Philanthropy Funds Rooftop Garden to Offer Patients, Loved Ones and Team Members a Breath of Fresh Air In the midst of uncertainty and stress, it’s important that all of us take a moment to ... October 12, 2020 Understand the importance of safe sleep While the prevalence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the United States has de... October 12, 2020 Olcott’s Gift Paves Way for Nurse Navigation at the New Regional Academic Health Center Joan Olcott will be long remembered as an important figure in the Bloomington community... October 11, 2020 Breast cancer patient found lump two weeks before mammogram At the recommendation of her family physician, Kelly Kelso scheduled a mammogram. Two w... October 09, 2020 Merriman Award Honors Compassionate Team Members Statewide Five IU Health team members around the state have won the “Lynda,” the Lynda A. Merrima... October 09, 2020 From Riley to University Hospital – Patient relies on music therapy He first came to IU Health as an infant and recently when he came back as an adult, Nat... October 07, 2020 Former school bus driver fights pancreatic cancer For 25 years, Alan “Dale” Albright drove a school bus. He looked at the kids on his rou... October 06, 2020 How Could My Alcohol Use Affect My Family? “It’s just one more drink.” “I haven’t had any legal problems.” “I worked really hard t... October 06, 2020 IU Health midwifery practice invites women to “call the midwife” In a nod to the popular PBS television series “Call the Midwife,” four IU Health nurse ... October 01, 2020 Mother’s devotion: Driven to improving mental health care After years of experiencing firsthand her son’s diagnosis of mental illness, Joan Ester... September 30, 2020 LifeLine crew reunites with seriously injured teen airlifted to Methodist It was his second time to board a LifeLine helicopter and this time, Brandon Stuckwish ... September 29, 2020 How to Recognize & Prevent Heart Disease During COVID-19 Have you given much thought to your heart this year? During the COVID-19 pandemic, ma... September 29, 2020 IU Health, IPS launch career development program at Crispus Attucks Upon graduation and completion of the fellowship program, students will be guaranteed a... September 28, 2020 Grant Connects People in Rural Communities to Emergency Behavioral Care Thanks to a new grant secured by IU Health Foundation, people in rural communities in n... September 24, 2020 White Memorial helping patient move from a motorized cart to walking the fields Gene Dallinger suffers from COPD and started working with pulmonary rehab at IU Health ... September 24, 2020 From North Africa to the U.S.: Expatriate encourages community engagement A native of Algeria, Mohamed Merzoug joined IU Health’s Community Outreach and Engageme... September 24, 2020 As he retires: Transplant leader dedicated to patients and hospital community After more than a decade of serving as IU Health’s Medical Director of Kidney & Pancrea... September 23, 2020 Lab worker driven by niece’s death from sepsis Thousands of children die each year as a result of severe sepsis. Matthew “Trevor” O’He... September 22, 2020 Methodist childbirth educator looks forward to Riley move The new maternity tower at Riley will centralize all inpatient and newborn care so even... September 21, 2020 In Pursuit of Health Equity: An Evolution in Healthcare At the crossroads of storylines between the COVID-19 pandemic and summer-long protests ... September 21, 2020 Practicing Mindfulness During Times of Uncertainty The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fact that things in life can be out of our co... September 18, 2020 IU Health Arnett donates masks to local food banks Indiana University Health Arnett is donating masks to local food banks to help improve ... September 17, 2020 Two surgeries, one day - Father donates kidney to son When his son’s kidneys began to fail, Shannon Dobrucki did what most fathers would do –... September 16, 2020 IU Health Foundation’s Jessica Journey Receives International Industry Honor “Serving people with excellence, compassion, ethics, and positivity” has earned Jessica... September 15, 2020 Her nursing career is an extension of her life of empathy for others Melyssa Sams started her career later in life but she’s always been headed toward nursi... September 15, 2020 Hospital dietitian first came to IU Health as a pediatric patient Long before she even knew about careers in healthcare, Jennifer Golding was a patient a... September 14, 2020 Wear a Mask Because You Care … and Because It Works One of the best ways to protect yourself, your loved ones and the people in your commun... September 14, 2020 Why it’s Crucial to Get Your Flu Shot in 2020 2020 has taught us a lot of lessons. One major lesson being the importance of maintaini... September 10, 2020 Nurse: “I chose IU Health because I trust the oncology care” There are hospitals closer to her home, but when DaJuana Moore was diagnosed with breas... September 09, 2020 College student recovering from bone marrow transplant When she discovered the mass two years ago, Mayra Rodriguez completed treatment at IU H... September 09, 2020 IU Health Foundation Funds Officer Down Kits for Tipton Police & Tipton County Sheriff's Departments Pictured from Left: Thomas Sliwa, MD – Emergency Medicine; Brad Robins – Sergeant Tipto... September 09, 2020 IU Health Foundation Grant Helps People Quit Smoking Indiana ranks fifth-highest in the nation for tobacco use, but the IU Health West Centr... September 08, 2020 IU Health Team Member Gives to Transform Healthcare Inequities For Craig Brooks, transformation manager for IU Health Physicians, “transformation” is ... September 07, 2020 Healthcare at home with virtual visits As the COVID-19 case number increases throughout Indiana, more and more Hoosiers are fa... September 04, 2020 Indiana University Health Tipton Hospital opens COVID-19 testing site TIPTON, Ind. – Indiana University Health Tipton Hospital understands the need for a loc... September 03, 2020 Brain surgery on a former president? We can do that From president to patient: Amos Sawyer led the country of Liberia for four years, but i... September 03, 2020 Pharmacy Technician: "I'm exactly where I need to be." For 23 years, Jennifer Harshman has worked as a pharmacy technician. Throughout Harshma...