Disease Prevention Story

Lawrence Public Schools nurse works with Health Department staff to prevent illness

By Karrey Britt | Communications Coordinator

Sonja Gaumer, nursing facilitator for Lawrence Public Schools, works closely with nurses at the Health Department to help prevent the spread of diseases.

“They help us greatly. If we have a potential case of chickenpox, measles or whopping cough, we call them,” she said. The Health Department nurses will find out if it is a laboratory-confirmed case, and then they work with schools to contain the disease. Diseases can be contained through immunizations and isolating students who are sick. “We want to make sure that it is not going from this person to this person to this person. It can become a large problem quickly if not contained,” Sonja said. “They help us with that.”

The Health Department helps inform school staff and parents about diseases through letters, phone calls and in-person visits. Additionally, Sonja said the Health Department provides immunizations on a walk-in basis, which makes it convenient for families.
Sonja also is grateful for the information that the Health Department provides on diseases and other health topics. She receives the quarterly Infection Connection newsletter as well as email alerts. “The Health Department is a good, trusted resource for information,” she said.

In August, she began receiving information about state and local preparedness efforts for Ebola, a rare and deadly disease that is spread through direct contact with body fluids of someone infected with the Ebola virus. “There was a lot of misinformation circulating, especially in the national media. I had one child who went home crying because of that misinformation,” she said. “I was able to use the Health Department’s one-page Ebola fact sheet to help inform parents. I thought the fact sheet was excellent.”

Additionally, Sonja attended the Health Department’s preparedness meetings and listened to weekly state conference calls about Ebola. “I enjoy working with the Health Department. We have a wonderful partnership,” she said. “They are very accessible and easy to get a hold of.”

Disease Prevention
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Lawrence Public Schools Nursing Facilitator Sonya Gaumer is pictured in her office in December 2014. She works closely with the Health Department's staff to help prevent spread of disease.