This is Ms. Judy DePasquale
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
By Jennifer Ersalesi
For twenty years, Judy DePasquale has been the School Nurse at Rutherford High School. Not only does Judy provide medical care and support to the students at RHS, but she also takes care of the staff at the high school. Every day brings about new challenges at the high school, but now that everyone is home, Judy has suggestions on ways to stay healthy and protected. The Principal of RHS, Mr. Frank Morano, told This is Rutherford, “Ms. DePasquale is an integral part of the RHS staff. Ms. D wears many hats in our building. Not only is she the medical professional but she is also our building 504 coordinator and the advisor to many clubs and activities. Ms. D is not only a comforting face for our students but also for staff as well."
TIR: What have you enjoyed most about your school nursing career so far?
Judy DePasquale: I enjoy working with the students. They keep me on my toes. They are curious about their health and how to keep healthy. My office is always open. Sometimes they just come in for a 10-minute break from class or to clear their head or they sit in my little waiting room reading the health materials I have available. Other times they stop by just to get a cough drop or band-aid or just to say Hi. I love it.
TIR: What is the most challenging part of your job at RHS?
JD: Every day is a challenge. I never know what the day may bring. With a student population of 750 and a faculty of 100, there is much going on and I take nothing for granted.
TIR: Where else do you work?
JD: I have worked part-time, weekends and one night in an Urgent Walk-in Center since I left nursing at the hospital and went into school nursing. Before I became a school nurse, I worked as an Emergency Room Nurse for many years in a hospital. So, an Urgent Walk-in Center was perfect for me, it allowed me to keep my skills sharp and current.
TIR: What do you enjoy most about your other positions?
JD: I love nursing and each position has it up and downs. Again, I work in Ambulatory medicine at Urgent care and in the Post Anesthesia Unit in the hospital so I never know what the shift may hold that day. I do what I am trained to do. I never lose sight of the fact that each person I see does not want to be sick, is not at their best behavior and their family is anxious. So, I approach each patient with a smile no matter how I feel. Easier said than done.
TIR: What do you want people to understand about nurses?
JD: Nurses are like warriors. We have a job to do and that is our only treatment goal. We follow protocol and procedure and we do not deviate from that goal. We are caretakers. We leave no one behind. We go where others fear to go. Everything we do is for the betterment of our patients no matter how long it takes. Nurses do not have a 9-5 job.
TIR: During this Pandemic crisis, what would you like people to know about taking care of themselves and their loved ones?
JD: For the most part people in this area are very health conscious and want to remain that way. Yet, we are very social but when we were asked to follow the medical guidelines to protect one another and our families we complied. I think the hardest part of this social distancing is for the younger children who do not see their friends and teachers at school and do not fully understand the severity of this pandemic. Washing our hands has been a mantra of the health care system. This pandemic only brings that mantra to the forefront of our lives. Another important lesson from this pandemic is that we are not an island. It is important to stay in contact with family, friends, and neighbors, from a distance, just in case they may need our help or we need their help.
TIR: Many communities, including Rutherford, have been showing their support for health care workers. As a health care worker, why do you think this support is so important?
JD: Oh, I think the support is very important not only for the health care workers but for the teachers who are working from home to try a keep some normalcy to a school day, the grocery shelf stocker, the person who pumps our gas, the cashier at Wendy's, the food delivery person, the pizza store, the truckers, and anyone who is trying to keep our life as normal as possible through this horrific time. It is important to thank everyone who has done their part to help all of us survive
TIR: What are some of the best ways to support health care workers and first responders at this time?
JD: The best thing that we can do to support the health care workers and first responders is to follow the medical guidelines on social distancing, stay home, and wash our hands. This pandemic has brought to the forefront that each and every one of us is dependent on each other.