The Charlevoix Health Department of Northwest Michigan building stands Monday, March 14, 2022, located at 220 W. Garfield Ave.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW) is celebrating its nursing staff throughout Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties this month.

To acknowledge their contributions and impact, the health department asks that staff and clients say thank you during National Nurses Week, May 6-12. May is also National Nurses Month.

“Public health nurses are crucial to promoting health and protecting the health of our communities; they teach, support, and care for each and every community member through the services they provide,” said Amanda Thompson, director of family health services. “Nurses are the foundation of direct client care at HDNW and many of the services would not be achievable without the work of nurses.”

Amanda Thompson

Charlevoix Mayor Luther Kurtz recently issued a mayoral proclamation on behalf of all nurses working throughout Charlevoix County.

“Nurses play a pivotal and crucial role in our health care system,” he declared. “I encourage the entire community to seek ways to show our ongoing gratitude for the nurses in our lives.”

The health department has 45 nurses on staff. Through their various training and specialties, officials said the nurses help support healthy people — families, young adults, and adults — in Northern Michigan.

School-based nursing

As a health resource advocate for COVID-19, Heather Schrems put her nursing degree to work within the schools to help with testing, contract tracing, and infection prevention and education. As the pandemic moved into the recovery phase, she said the trust and value discovered during COVID-19 has opened doors for ongoing support.

Heather Schrems

Moving forward, Schrems will share her time between four schools as a wellness nurse. Her work involves helping equip teachers and students to deal with health issues like the symptoms of allergic reactions, the role of nutrition, blood sugar management, insulin, and the use of EpiPens, for example.

“I am providing the tools so that staff and students can be successful in handling health care needs within the schools,” Schrems said. “School nursing has allowed me to alleviate some of the stresses and responsibilities of teachers and staff.

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