This week’s Hometown Public Servant is Jennifer F. Harrison with Emanuel County Health Department. Born and raised in Martinez, Georgia, Harrison is not a native of the area but has served the county well throughout her years of employment.
“While my husband and I were dating, I worked in Augusta and part-time at Emanuel Medical Center and Swainsboro Technical College. After we were married, a nursing position came available at the health department and I was fortunate to have been selected for the full-time position,” Harrison stated when explaining how she came to Emanuel County.
Harrison currently serves as the Emanuel County Health Department’s nurse manager/APRN and has done so for the past six years. Prior to this capacity, she worked with children at the clinic as a special needs nurse for 10 years, totaling 16 years of employment with her current workplace.
“Originally, I think what sparked my interest in public health was working with children with disabilities. My heart goes out to these children and their families. As I took the position as a CMS nurse, I wanted to learn how I could make a positive difference in their lives. For over ten years, I worked with hundreds of special needs children and families helping parents coordinate care with doctors, teachers, and therapists, ordering needed supplies and medications, and educating parents on various topics all while offering support and encouragement. This was such a rewarding time during this phase of my career,” Harrison stated.
Though she loved the capacity in which she served as special needs nurse, Harrison wished to continue her education by completing her master’s degree program. Upon completion of her goal, she was offered the nurse manager position, which she refers to as a “new and very different phase” of her career, yet still just as rewarding.
“I am a very caring and compassionate person and I want to serve. It is my passion to care for and help those in need. I have found that patients can also teach me a new thing or two! Every day I try to make a positive difference in the lives of those I see here at the clinic. There is one thing in public health…it is always changing. Over the past year, I have learned a new role of public health pandemic nurse. Covid-19 has changed many things in all our lives, but again, I have been so blessed to serve those in this community,”
Harrison speaks on education requirements for capacity served
“To be hired as a registered nurse with the Emanuel County Health Dept., one must have an associate degree in nursing or higher. APRNs and LPNs are occasionally hired through our organization as the need arises. It is not a requirement to have your nurse practitioner degree to be a nurse manager. Many in the community may not know the breadth of training and rigor of a public health nurse. PH nurses go through almost 12 months of training, which includes an advanced assessment course, as well as strenuous trainings both in class and on the job in the areas of women’s health, child health, STD, diabetes and hypertension, and tuberculosis. PH nurses are also trained to open and manage shelters for those with and without special healthcare needs. We are also trained to work in any capacity when there is a national emergency requiring activation of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). This SNS program delivers pharmaceuticals and other needed supplies in the event of a terrorist attack using a biological, toxin or chemical agent directed against a civilian population. And now, we have been trained to serve in the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes learning how to educate, test, and now vaccinate those in our community. There is never a dull moment in the life of a public health worker!”
Words from Harrison to those she serves
“I would like to address to the community that we here at the Emanuel County Health Department pride ourselves in meeting the needs of this community. Each of us here look forward to continuing to serve you. Thank you for your patronage!”