Image of nurse and a hear in the middle of two hands. PWCS nurses stepping in to help Prince William County Health District during pandemic

Twenty-two school nurses from Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) have signed up to volunteer through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to help staff the Prince William Health District Call Center and provide other services as needed during the current pandemic.

"It is necessary to have a call center available to answer questions from residents," said Sherrie Johnson, spokesperson and director of communications for Prince William County Government. "The goal is to keep people informed and provide necessary information to keep families safe and help alleviate fear. We are appreciative of all of the individuals volunteering to work in the call center."

Diana Fening has been the school nurse at Occoquan Elementary School for about 18 years, and she is answering phones two or three times per week.

"It is hard to watch other nurses in the trenches and not be able to do something," said Fening. "It is a great way to give back to the community."

Kati Karamanis has been a nurse for PWCS for nine years, serving the past three at Freedom High School.

"Being a nurse is not something that we do. It's not a job that we have. It is who we are," she said. "I cannot sit idly by and not try to support the community."

Katharine O'Shea has been a nurse at Patriot High School for two years. She previously served two years as the nurse at Potomac High School.

"In an emergency like this, I think it is important to be able to use my skills to help my community however I can," she said. "Seeing my fellow nurses dealing with this crisis makes me want to help more. We are all in this together, and we can get through this if we work together to help."

Mar Tortajada has been the school nurse at Gainesville Middle School for the past three years. She worked for 25 years in a hospital setting before coming to Gainesville Middle.

"I have chosen to volunteer as a nurse for the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps because I want to serve our health district population with my nursing and bilingual skills during this COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

Charity Nwanevu is the school nurse for the division's newest school - John D. Jenkins Elementary School. She previously worked as the nurse at Woodbridge High School and C.D. Hylton High School. She has been a member of the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps for 10 years.

"In the past 10 years, I have provided health education classes (CPR/BLS/First Aid) in the community including the library, churches and cultural centers," she said. "For the COVID-19, I'm participating in webinars, keeping in contact with nurses and making myself available for online services and telehealth training for the health department and providers in the community that wish to initiate telehealth services for their offices and/or their clients."

Tina Fairbanks has worked for PWCS for 18 years and has been the nurse at Battlefield High School since it opened in 2004.

"I registered to volunteer with Medical Reserve Corp because I have a skill set that is needed during many events and emergencies especially now during the COVID-19 Pandemic," she said. "I am currently awaiting assignment/activation from the Greater Prince William Medical Reserve Corp. I'm ready and prepared to assist in anyway needed."

Glorya Jordan is in her first year as a nurse at Rockledge Elementary School. She has a decade of experience of open heart/critical care nursing. 

"I am volunteering my time because we all can do something to help our community through this crisis," she said. "I may not be in the hospital on the very front lines, but I can walk with citizens through the unknown. Knowledge is power and it helps people feel more in control of a situation that is completely outside of their control when they know how to best care for their family and loved ones."

Patricia Tipmongkol is a part-time support nurse who works at the middle and high schools.

"I find it gratifying to help in any way possible," she said. "Volunteering at the Prince William Health District Call Center is a wonderful way to connect with our community by providing helpful guidance and reassurance at times. We are in this together."

School nurse sitting a table on the telephone