Oak Brook school nurse loves job
Deme Failla, a school nurse for Butler Elementary District 53 in Oak Brook for nine years, puts ice on a Brook Forest student's hand which he fractured outside of school. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 2:02AM
OAK BROOK — Deme Failla’s nursing career took her into operating rooms for heart surgery and people’s mouths for oral surgery. Returning to work after raising her children, Failla took a different nursing path. Failla has spent the past nine years as the school nurse for Brook Forest Elementary School and Butler Junior High.
Q. As the only school nurse for Butler Elementary District 53, how much time do you spend at each school?
A. I work 20 hours a week. I’m at the junior high from 9:30 to 2:30 on Wednesdays and at Brook Forest during the same hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
Q. You were out of nursing for 13 years while raising your kids. How did you know you wanted to go back?
A. I love nursing; it’s the only thing I know how to do. It was a long time away from it, but I never doubted myself; I knew I’d be able to come back to it, and I was excited about getting back into nursing. It would have been very different if I had gone back to a hospital, but being a school nurse wasn’t difficult for me to get back into.
Q. How and why did you decide to become a school nurse?
A. I love children; I always have, and I wanted something with hours conducive to me having children and being there for them. The hours working back at a hospital would have been very difficult.
Q. Was it difficult finding a job as a school nurse?
A. I started as a substitute nurse in Downers Grove. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t worked for a while as a nurse. I really enjoyed it and then came here nine years ago.
Q. Is there anything you miss about working in a hospital?
A. I really miss the surgical floor. I loved the hustle and bustle that went on there. But I love the job I have now, too, and I love working where I am. The kids who are eighth-graders now were in kindergarten when I started. It’s been so fun watching them grow up.
Q. Is there much of a difference working with the kids at Brook Forest as compared to those at the junior high?
A. Actually, yes, there is because of the age. They have different needs. There are more bloody noses and injuries on the playground with the younger kids. I try to give them all encouragement. Sometimes, they just need me to make them feel consoled and comfortable. I’ve had kids come in and tell me they got hurt on a Saturday night, but that they wanted me to know about it because they know I care about them.
Q. What makes for a good school nurse?
A. The most important thing is to know the difference between what type of care is needed. You have to know when it’s necessary to go to a hospital, and you have to be confident in your decision.
Q. How often have you sent, or suggested that, a student be sent to the hospital?
A. It happens, but not frequently. My first year in this district, I diagnosed a head injury with a student who ended up having surgery for something very serious. They are fine now and in high school.
Q. Do you have any hobbies?
A. I like to garden, ride my bike, work with crafts, and sew, and I like home decorating?
Q. Do you have any favorite foods?
A. I like Italian food, even though I’m Greek. My husband is Italian, and I like to go out to a nice restaurant with my family.