Mon Schools nursing director wins state award for service

·2 min read

Oct. 15—MORGANTOWN — Last spring, when Monongalia County Schools rolled out the first COVID vaccines for students 12-15 years of age, that event, in many ways, was like an emergency room waiting area—all at once.

An emergency room waiting area that was quite full.

Some 1, 500 shots were administered over that two-day stretch in May, and every one of the recipients likely got a reassuring word from Susan Haslebacher, who directs school services for the district.

That's definitely how it was at Suncrest Middle School, on the afternoon of that first day.

"You doing OK, sir ?" she asked one lanky lad who fixed an interested gaze on the bandage on his arm.

"Good job, " she said to another female student who was flexing her arm and wiggling her fingers after her dose. "One down, one to go."

While the pandemic was something she couldn't have predicted, she was still right at home in the controlled chaos of the vaccine clinic that day at Suncrest Middle.

Before coming back home to raise her daughters in her native West Virginia, she was an emergency room nurse for several years in the Washington, D.C., area.

There, she helped tend to medical calamities of every stripe, from nasty accidents to scary drive-by shootings.

Her steady medical hand garnered some state recognition earlier from the West Virginia Association of School Nurses, which honored her with an inaugural award.

The first-ever Excellence in School Nursing Award honors those school health administrators who know their way around triages and budgets alike.

"Susan has exhibited organization, spirit and consistency, " organizers said. "She advocates for students and always errs on the side of the student."

Haslebacher, who also oversees homebound services for Mon Schools, supervises a team of 15 registered nurses and two practical nurses in the day-to-day of the district.

Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. calls her "the heartbeat of health " for the school system he oversees.

The nursing director daily stares down COVID-19, he said, to ensure the health of everyone associated with every school in the district.

"Even during 'regular' times she is amazing at what she does, " he said. "She sacrifices to make sure our children and staff are as safe as possible."

Haslebacher sees it more as a calling than anything else, she said.

She eased out of the hospital ER when her children were small, she said, because she wanted to be home with them more.

That was 20 years ago, when the Cross Lanes native who went to nursing school at WVU decided to live in Morgantown again.

"Public health has become a passion, " she said. "And I am so honored to receive this award."

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