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Florence 1 Schools superintendent receives award from SC Association of School Nurses

Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley has been recognized by the SC Association of School Nurses for his positive impact on school nursing and the health of school-aged children. District Lead Nurse Beth Holzbach surprised O’Malley with the news Thursday afternoon.

Dr. O'Malley wins SC Association of School Nurses Award

“We wanted to celebrate your accomplishments in meeting the health needs of our students and employees over this difficult year of COVID," Holzbach said. "I am so pleased to inform you that you have been selected as the recipient of the 2020-2021 Cindy Rish Poole Award, which is an award given annually by the South Carolina Association of School Nurses. The award honors an individual whose support of school nursing and school health has been exemplary and whose contributions or accomplishments in the field of school health have made a positive impact on the lives of school-aged children. Your determination, sense of urgency and energetic approach to your Students First commitment has inspired us as we work together to educate our students and keep them healthy.”

Holzbach and her team of nurses submitted a nomination for O’Malley, including several personal letters from nurses in the district. The nomination highlighted accomplishments such as increasing the number of nurses in the district, changing the way that a nurse’s medical experience before joining the school district impacted their pay, and quick responses to the needs of the district before and during the closure due to COVID-19, helping to keep students and staff safe.

“In 2020, as we began addressing our response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Dr. O’Malley made certain that our initial work group included input from our nurses and that our Lead Nurse was on the planning committee,” the nomination said. “It has been evident that the opinions and input from our district nurses have been valued by Dr. O'Malley during his leadership and especially during these unprecedented times.”

In their support letter, South Florence nurses Brittany Waller and Hope Camper praised O’Malley’s efforts to partner with local hospitals to provide health services for students and staff.

“In an effort to improve student access to medical services, Dr. O'Malley supported the participation of F1S in the McLeod Health School-Based Telehealth Program (SBTP). At South Florence High School alone, we have been able to address potential cases of strep throat, influenza, urinary tract infections, staph infections, and shingles. This service decreases the amount of time students miss classroom instruction by allowing them to be seen and diagnosed by a medical provider while on campus.”

They added, “He has put the well-being of our students first from the very beginning. Dr. O’Malley’s work has truly made a difference in the health and well-being of not only our students but also our staff and community.”

Nurse Dayne Lewis said that she has always felt supported by Dr. O’Malley and believes that he makes his decisions with the district’s students in mind first and foremost.

“I have witnessed a superintendent who epitomizes the criteria for this award and has been committed to school health and school nursing since my arrival as an employee,” Lewis wrote. “Covid-19 has placed many challenges on school nurses this year. I know firsthand how my job has changed since last year. I have spent countless hours on weekends and after the school day to make sure students, staff and their families are taken care of. I have never once doubted Dr. O’Malley’s commitment to the COVID guidelines set forth by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the CDC. Dr. O’Malley, along with his leadership team, has always made me feel supported and has stood by any decision I have made to make sure my school stays safe. He made sure that the necessary supplies were obtained like infrared scanners for temperature screenings, masks, hand sanitizer stations, social distancing markers, and so much more. However, the most evident action of his commitment is when he stops by my school on visits. When I see him in the building, I know he isn't going to skip my room. He has always checked on me and asked me how things were going and if there was anything I needed… Our district has a motto of “Students First” and I genuinely believe that everything he does puts students first.”