School clinic deals with nursing shortage


Madison Socol

This is one of the beds Kings High School nurses use for students to lay down on when not feeling well

School nurse, Candy Anthony, retired on September 17, 2021, leaving the challenges that come with a suddenly empty long-term position.

After one of the most grueling years for school nurses, the 2020-2021 school year, a year jam-packed with quarantines, contact-tracing, and masks,  Anthony made the decision to retire at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. 

“Unfortunately, how things came up was Mrs. Anthony retired at the beginning of the year, so we went back to our old model, with two people in the clinic right now,”  Principal Doug Leist said.

While her departure was not necessarily a huge surprise to the rest of the nursing staff, her absence completely changed the dynamic. Originally, the junior high and high school both had the same head nurse and assistant nurse, with an office strategically placed between the two schools in order to care for both student bodies. This year, the administration created a new model and hired a second full-time nurse for the junior high, Melissa Dias, and the assistant nurse, Laura DeVage, floated between schools to help where needed. However, with Anthony’s retirement, the school had to go back to its old model.

“I think she had been thinking about it for a little while, and she had been here for many years, but yeah she had been thinking about it,” Junior High Nurse, Melissa Dias said.

Melissa Dias has been working for Kings since last year. She started as a health aid, but by the end of the year the administration decided it was time for the junior high to have its own nurse, and Dias stepped up to the challenge. 

“So I started last year at the high school and I started as the Health Aid.  I worked with Mrs. Anthony all last year, and that was a very busy year, the year of Covid. So that was my first year here. Then at the end of last year, they posted a position for the Junior High to have their own nurse,” Dias said. 

Prior to this decision, Junior High students traveled all the way to the high school in order to get any medical help, which is not ideal. Unfortunately, when Anthony retired, junior high students once again had to travel back to the high school to get medical attention. Having only one office for nurses in the high school burdens nurses with a larger workload and costs students more of their class time. 

“It’s hard. This is a hard job, hard work,” Leist said.

Dias has temporarily taken on the role of school nurse, caring for students in seventh all the way through 12th grade, so no one is without a nurse. On Monday, November 15, the clinic will return to the new model with two nurses, with the new nursing position being filled by Alicia Foster. 

“The people who like to have this position are people who really like to work with students, who really like to work with kids,” Leist said. 

While the new nurse will certainly be welcomed into the community, many students still miss Mrs. Anthony. 

“I really liked Mrs. Anthony, she was, like, really nice,” junior Sophie Miller said. “I’m gonna miss her.”