Faculty Spotlight: Nurse Gillette
Cindy Gillette reached a milestone anniversary last year as an employee at Holy Child. Gillette, or “Nurse” as she is affectionately called by students and faculty, celebrated her 15th anniversary as the school’s nurse in 2020.
An alumna from the class of 1979, Gillette came to Holy Child after the physician whose practice she worked in as a nurse practitioner retired. Little did she know at the time that she would become a fixture in the life of the school and beloved to both the student body and her colleagues. Being a school nurse is so much more than administering medicine and providing minimal first aid. Gillette arranges flu shots for faculty, coordinates blood drives, and chaperones field trips. She is a passionate student advocate and an attentive listener. “I try to take a look at the whole student and help them get their needs met: mind, body, and spirit."
Not one to sit idly by, Gillette is an active participant if the life of the school and volunteers for roles at Holy Child outside of the health room. In her role as the nurse, every student walks through her door at one time or another, so she is perfectly suited to be a part of so many of the other events and traditions at Holy Child. She has spoken at Ring Day and Baccalaureate Mass, and attended retreats including Kairos. “I was a group leader at Kairos numerous times and one year actually ran the whole retreat! I have been a chaperone on local field trips and trips to Philadelphia to see the Pope and to Italy on spring break.”
Back in 2005 when she started at Holy Child, Gillette could not have anticipated the onset of a global pandemic and how it would affect our school and specifically, her role as school nurse. “Being a school nurse during a pandemic is nothing like anything I have ever done before,” Gillette says. She has taken on many additional roles while doing her best to take care of the students in front of her every day. During the summer, when she typically doesn’t work, Gillette was involved in establishing an entirely new set of protocols and procedures required to protect the Holy Child community during the coronavirus pandemic, including setting up an isolation room, obtaining hard to acquire PPE, and creating sanitizing protocols. Gillette adds, “It has been overwhelming to keep up with all of the changing information about COVID. It feels like I have participated in more webinars and meetings in the past year than in all of my nursing years!”
In addition to all of the typical responsibilities of a school nurse, Gillette now manages the COVID symptom screening app that Holy Child uses. “Since August, I start each day by following up on any positive symptoms that are answered via app that parents fill out every morning for every student.” She also oversees COVID testing for the Holy Child community. “I follow up with the students that did not come for the testing, follow up on positive results, answer parents' questions about the testing, contact the health department with positive results, and do contact tracing in conjunction with them.” These responsibilities required take up quite a lot of time outside the traditional school hours. “I spend several hours most weekends following up on the test results from the week before,” Gillette adds.
Even typical visits to the health room have changed in the face of COVID. Gillette says, “Every student that comes to the health room gets asked COVID-19 screening questions and their temperature taken, and THEN I can ask them what they actually need! Some students just come because they need a break from class or are feeling anxious about the virus. I try my best to answer their questions as well as the questions of the faculty, staff, and parents.”
In the face such a tumultuous year, Gillette still loves her job and says the best part of it is “without a doubt, the students. I love taking care of them and I learn so much from them.” They love her right back. Nora Rembold ’21 says, "Over the past three and a half years, Nurse has been one of the greatest support systems Holy Child has given me. Whether it is to give me a band-aid, or significant life advice, she has been there unconditionally for me and is one of the most selfless people I know. As I approach my last lap of high school, I have come to see how much of a key piece of the puzzle she has been to my high school experience. Holy Child would simply not be the same place without her, and I am so thankful to have had the gift of getting to know her."
Dean of Students, Julie Connelly, can attest to how grateful we all feel that Cindy Gillette is on our team: “Nurse is a staple of the HC community and a valuable member of our team that keeps us functioning on a day-to-day basis. Like so many of us, her job saw several changes last March when the pandemic began, and she has not skipped a beat. She has done everything in her power to keep our community safe and has spent countless hours doing all she can to provide an environment safe for our students to thrive and our teachers to teach.”
Thank you, Nurse. From all of us. We are grateful for you!
Written by: Nora Fitzpatrick, Assistant to the Head of School