After spending 25 years working as a nurse at Bothwell Regional Health Center, a local woman has turned to helping with the hospital’s community outreach programs.
Sharon Sawford, of Otterville, retired from nursing a few years ago, but has remained a PRN at Bothwell, working when needed in pediatrics, and teaches several community outreach programs, such as Safe Sitter and CPR/First Aid classes.
“I love doing the community programs, I really do,” Sawford said. “I love going out there and teaching them something, letting them know they’re important in this society too, they can do something. They can save a life, they don’t have to have nursing training. … Community outreach, nursing, it’s very satisfying. You’re doing some good.”
Sawford attended cosmetology school, then got married and had six children, but she still wanted to achieve her goal of becoming a nurse. She said she wanted to be a nurse to “help people” and that it’s been a “very rewarding profession.”
“I always played Florence Nightingale when I was little,” Sawford said. “I went back to school at State Fair Community College and I had the wonderful opportunity to still be at home, raise my kids, and go to school. Graduated in ‘89 and started working at Bothwell and I’ve been there all the time.”
Sawford has been helping with the Safe Sitter classes since 2010. According to a news release, the program is designed to educate children ages 11 to 14 to prepare them for babysitting, with Sawford teaching the students about CPR, injury management and prevention, childcare essentials, behavior management, the business of babysitting and how to care for a choking child or infant.
“Sharon has been an extremely reliable resource for us,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Melissa Boeschen. “You can tell she genuinely appreciates being able to work with the community, especially the kids with the Safe Sitter program. … She’s worked very hard to retire but hasn’t really because she comes back and is doing stuff for us at least twice, three times a month.”
Sawford said the students tend to drag their feet a little at the beginning of the class, which starts bright and early at 7:30 a.m., but once they start getting more involved they “really appreciate coming.”
“We divided our groups into infants, toddlers, preschoolers and we would talk about each one of the groups, what needs does the infant have, are they going to be self-sufficient, what are you going to have to do for them,” Sawford explained. “Once they got into that they began to really shine. They really became more involved in what we were doing. That’s known as child care essentials.”
Next, Sawford goes over sitter safety, such as how to advertise a babysitting business, the information the babysitter will need from the family, having a plan with their parents about if they feel unsafe at the other family’s home, and what to do if an injury, fire or tornado occur. She also teaches how to deal with a choking child or infant and CPR.
The program, which is offered in all 50 states, was created by Dr. Patricia Keener in Indianapolis, Indiana, after an unfortunate incident involving a colleague.
“A colleague of hers was working one day and she had an 18-month-old baby that was at home with an adult babysitter. During breakfast that morning the baby started choking and the adult babysitter didn’t know what to do,” Sawford said. “By the time they got to the emergency room the little girl had died. She felt that was such an unnecessary death, it could’ve been prevented had people known what to do.”
Boeschen said Bothwell has been hosting Safe Sitter once a quarter, but she has a goal to host the class monthly to give more students a chance to participate.
“The biggest thing for me is that even if they’re not a babysitter but they have younger or older siblings, this creates such an awareness in their home, just for safety in general,” Boeschen said. “… In an emergency situation it gives them a sense of preparedness on how to react.”
Boeschen added that other Bothwell community outreach programs can be beneficial for adults.
“So you can get the 11- to 14-year-old group, then once you’re 16 you can get certified in CPR and first aid and we have that program available, and then post that if you become a parent then we have the childbirth education classes where you can learn that as well,” she said. “All different stages of life to reinforce safety does matter.”
Many classes this year have been full and some upcoming classes have only a few spots left. Boeschen said they are looking to increase the number of classes offered in 2017 due to an influx in participation and interest. A Safe Sitter class will be hosted Sept. 10 and has one spot available, with one more class to be offered in 2016.
To register for an upcoming program or for more information, contact Boeschen at 660-827-9138 or [email protected]
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.