Lindsay Karant joins diocese as school nurse consultant
FORT WORTH — Although Lindsay Karant will use lessons learned first in the U.S. Air Force and then as a school nurse during COVID-19, she’s most excited about adding the faith component to her work as the new diocesan school nurse consultant.
In the Catholic school setting, nurses can consider the whole person’s health — physical, spiritual, and mental, according to Karant.
In her new role, she views herself as an information collector and disseminator for the school nurses and health representatives at the 17 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Nurses or health aides screen students’ hearing and vision, check for scoliosis, and review immunization records. Some of this data is reported to the state health department.
She also stays abreast of any new health requirements for schools from the state, and she ensures each school is informed and compliant.
Karant provides an extra level of support to the eight schools in the diocese that have a health aide rather than a school nurse.
After earning a nursing degree from University of Missouri in Columbia, Karant entered the U.S. Air Force. The first of two important lessons she learned in her seven-and-a-half years of service is “respecting the systems you are in. No matter where we put ourselves, there’s something bigger than ourselves,” she said.
Another realization was that although she entered as an officer, her enlisted coworkers “may know 1,000 times more” about the task at hand because they have been performing it for years.
Karant’s 22 years of nursing experience also include 10 years in the Richardson and Carroll Independent School Districts. When the coronavirus pandemic began, she was the only nurse at an elementary school with about 525 students. Setting priorities, assimilating medical information, and managing workflow were critical. But she found listening just as important. She said, “Understanding whether they were in fear of death, of masks, of shots, of close contact — recognizing that [fear] can give you a lot more compassion.”
The pandemic gave Karant an extra level of appreciation for Catholic education. She observed, “Regardless of the turmoil of COVID, Catholic schools have the highest things first: Christ and His mother.” She is the mother of a Nolan Catholic High School freshman and a St. Elizabeth Ann Seton middle school student.
Having always had an interest in patterns and current issues in health care, Karant looks forward to an administrative role. She said her predecessor, Nancy Eder, who is now focused on her role as a nurse consultant to priests, made the transition “seamless” because the school nurses and health representatives were already organized and well-trained.
With her Air Force background in emergency preparedness, Karant anticipates she will help train schools for the unexpected. Two campuses are already Project ADAM certified with access and training to use an automated external defibrillator in case of sudden cardiac arrest. Karant hopes to have all schools Project ADAM certified and to ensure school staff feel competent to manage an emergency.
Day in and day out, however, school nurses and health aides handle the routine stomachaches, scraped knees, and various other childhood ailments and accidents. Karant pointed out that those encounters are an opportunity to address the whole person.
For example, someone with a stomachache may also suffer from anxiety — “that’s a mental health or a spiritual issue, and the nurse or health representative can be the one to ferret out what the student or staff member needs,” Karant explained.
“Mental health, spiritual health — those things are all encompassing with our physical health, and they all need to be addressed. The nurse or the health representatives is often the fulcrum point where they all meet,” she said.
She continued, “The blessing of Catholic school education is you have those resources available to you, to really get to the crux of the problem. You have the sacraments, the pastoral care, the things that can help those students in the school setting to treat the whole person that they are. The school nurse, or health representative, holds an important place in that whole-person education.”