Gastineau Elementary School Nurse Janet Capito was working after school one day when she was asked to check on a little boy.
He was lying on a couch, crying.
"I looked at his arm, and I said, 'Holy cow, he's got a badly broken arm.' His bones up near his elbow were broken and displaced. The child had been holding it close to his body so they couldn't see it well. That was a little bit scary."
Cases such as that one have been the focus of her attention for the last 11 years, since she started working as a nurse at Gastineau. In those years, Capito has worked with hundreds of Juneau children, parents and teachers. Last week, she was honored by the state for her efforts, receiving the Alaska School Nurse of the Year Award.
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"It's an honor, by all means," she said. "I feel somewhat embarrassed because I think there are so many school nurses who are so deserving of this award, perhaps more than me. But it is an honor, and I am happy with it, for sure."
The mother of two adult daughters, Capito moved to Juneau about 30 years ago with her husband when he took a job in environmental conservation. Capito worked at a doctor's office, but she transitioned to school nursing while her youngest daughter was in elementary school.
"That was kind of a fluke," she said. "The nurse here was retiring, and I was asked if I would like to work a couple days a week. It got more involved."
Capito had gained some experience in nursing at a hospital in her hometown of Warren, Ohio. She thought it would be nice to have summers off.
"It's a lot more difficult than I thought," she said. "You're basically the medical provider for a lot of people. Both staff and parents come to me as first-line medical care. That was a surprise to me."
Capito was nominated for the award by Luann Powers, the school nurse at Auke Bay Elementary School.
Powers wanted to recognize all the extra work Capito does in coordinating the meetings of nurses from the different schools. She keeps the policies up to date and helps keep the nurses current in their practice, Powers said. She plans monthly meetings and arranges for professionals to give them seminars.
"She's very dedicated to her school and to school nursing in the state," Powers said.
In addition, Capito stays active in the health community involving immunizations. She volunteers at the Juneau Raptor Center and is a fund-raising coordinator for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"She's got a great sense of humor," Powers said. "She keeps us on track, and does it in a fun way. She has a good heart."
Ken Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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