School nurse dream job for Pope

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Tabitha Pope is taking on a new challenge as the school nurse at Philadelphia Elementary School during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She started a few weeks ago and is learning students names. “I assess the children every day when they come in, trying to figure out if something is COVID-19 or an everyday child illness,” Pope said. 

“I have to be quick on my feet and try to prioritize this child (who might not be feeling well). It has been a challenge so far but it has gone quite smoothly.”

She said she is still learning her way around.

“I am really enjoying it,” Pope said. “I’m learning different things and I still have a lot to learn. But I’m excited about that.”

Keeping the COVID-19 virus out of the school is a top priority. “When the students come into my office, we try to spread them out,” said Pope. “We are trying to do a quick assessment when they come in. Do they have fever? What are their symptoms? Have they been exposed?

“We haven’t had that situation yet but we will try to isolate them as quickly as possible to keep them away from the other students and reduce the chance of it spreading.

Pope is a lifelong resident of Neshoba County. She and her husband Dustin live in the Arlington community with their three children.

Pope graduated from East Central Community College in 2011 when she received her nursing degree.

She started her career at Rush Foundation Hospital. Her next step was in Philadelphia where she worked for Neshoba Urgent Care on the family medical side. She has learned to take care of COVID-19 patients in recent months.           

“A lot of patients come in with COVID-19,” Pope said. “We saw a lot of COVID-19 and swabbed a lot of COVID -19, Of course, not all were positive. I had a lot of first-hand experience with it.”

Pope said she found the school in good shape as far as COVID-19 preparedness.

“Absolutely. I really wanted to dive in and get adjusted to what my job would be,” Pope said. “We stress social distancing and hand hygiene. We are all required to wear the masks.”

She said her husband, Dustin, is also a nurse but went to a different school. “I graduated from nursing school on a Thursday and he graduated on Friday,” Pope said. “And we got married on a Saturday. We had a busy 2011.

“Going into nursing, I didn’t know where my home was going to be. But I have been trying to get in a school system basically since I became a nurse. I am so excited to have this opportunity,” Pope said.


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