Lori Neel is a registered nurse and the medical office manager at Heartspring. Lori graduated with her nursing degree in December of 1995 and worked at Wesley Hospital on the Pediatric floor for 10 years prior to coming to Heartspring. She was a clinical advisor for about 8 of those years. That position gave her experience in scheduling, performance counseling and charge nursing. There were times during those 10 years that she worked two jobs at once. She also worked at a pediatric office and provided home health visits. Throughout her nursing career Lori has always worked with children, just in different settings. “I love the innocence that children naturally have. Plus they don’t whine as much as adults do, they just do it! If it weren’t for children I wouldn’t be a nurse at all,” she said.
Lori was referred to Heartspring by a very close friend. She shares, “It became important to incorporate into my work life the things that are important to me. In this phase of my life, I have my own children now and enjoy being able to flex my time to participate in field trips or music programs. I now have the luxury to do both, care for my own children, while still providing care for children the way I have always wanted to. Heartspring is like no other place. The children at Heartspring are special and need special attention to their medical needs. I believe all my experiences have built me up for this job.”
The health office at Heartspring oversees every aspect of each child’s medical needs. They provide annual well physicals as well as the occasional ill evaluations. They also evaluate each student as a team and make recommendations for medication changes that may contribute to the student’s ability to further their education, averaging 25 medicine changes a month as a group. They coordinate all outside appointments that the students may need. In addition, they are providing 24 hour/ 7day a week support to staff taking care of the students for any medical support that may arise.
Lori loves working with the students at Heartspring. She says, “I would like to enable the students to have a healthy and happy life. Each child has their own path they will take in life, some to greater independence than others. I look at every child as if I was their parent. That is how I try to understand their individual priorities. Any parent just wants to provide a good life for their child. Offering the opportunity to obtain as much knowledge and skills as they can by ensuring a healthy life, the ability to feel safe, and have genuine happiness.”
When asked what was her favorite thing about working at Heartspring, Lori quickly shares, “Building trusting relationships with the students. Over time when a student starts from total panic just to enter into the health office door, to coming in and giving me a “high five” after a treatment is very rewarding. The students learn that we are here to help them and usually accept us as part of their team.”
Lori also has a great appreciation for all those working in the world of Special Education. “For the teachers, the paras, the therapist…everyone allows these children the chance of a lifetime. I would have never understood the depth of commitment it takes to provide these children this opportunity. Now that I have seen it, nothing else compares! You guys are the best and I am proud to be a part of you!”