During National Nurses Week, we celebrate our incredible School Nurse, Kathleen Burgess Clark ’82.
Kathleen is an invaluable member of The Academy of the Holy Cross community. Her deep commitment to the students, families, faculty/staff and coaches has become even more evident with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before the pandemic forced the school to shut down in March 2020, Kathleen had begun to research all information as it became available. As the school formed a COVID-19 Taskforce, Kathleen was the driving force of how to keep our community safe first and foremost. She quickly worked to form relationships with members of the Montgomery County Health department and two nurses’ groups. Throughout the spring and summer, she continued to spend countless hours reading, researching and attending numerous online conferences to learn everything possible about how to keep our community safe and how to help minimize any virus spread in the greater community. Normally Kathleen would be off during the summer months, but in 2020 she worked beyond a full-time schedule throughout the summer to help the administration create reopening protocols. As the fall approached, Kathleen was on the front line with compiling lists of needed supplies and equipment to adapt the building. She also researched several options for screening tools the school would use, interviewed each and made a recommendation for the service which best fit the needs of the school. She then worked with the selected company and our school IT department to ensure the tool worked properly as needed. In October our students returned for hybrid learning and through Kathleen’s network she helped arrange for ongoing surveillance testing on a regular basis. As the winter brought the possibility of having our faculty/staff vaccinated, she followed every lead to help our teachers and staff register and receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Additionally, Kathleen is constantly available to the school community (parents, teachers, staff and athletic coaches) to answer questions, help provide important resources and to connect to vital services related to the COVID-19 virus. She treated every situation as unique and provided care and compassion tirelessly. This included many nights and weekends.
Kathleen has worked at Holy Cross since 2009, but her connection is deeper than her employment. Katheen and her five daughters are all Holy Cross alumnae, and she has numerous friends within the school community and the Montgomery County area. Holy Cross is her family. She puts her entire heart into everything she has done in service to students and faculty/staff of the school. Because she understands every level of the school, from the layout of the building, to the medical and emotional needs of the students, to the schedule of activities on a daily basis, she has been vital to making sure the school could return to in-person learning as quickly and safely as possible.
During the rare times that Kathleen has not been physically on campus, she goes to great lengths to make sure that everything that might be needed in her absence is in order for any substitute nurse or other medical staff. She leaves impeccable preparations so that the level of support is continued even if she is not available.
The Holy Cross mission is to develop women of courage, compassion and scholarship who embrace the social, spiritual and intellectual challenges of the world. Even before the pandemic, Kathleen was recognized as a stellar example of the school mission in action. In 2019, she was recognized with a school award (known as the Sister Grace Award) which is chosen by faculty/staff members for her outstanding commitment to the school.