Kari Stampfli Breaks New Ground as MMSD Health Services Program


Overseeing the health services program for the Madison Metropolitan School District — with 125 nurses serving 52 schools and 27,000 total students — is no small feat. Add to that a health care crisis and the need for a strong and capable leader becomes critical. Kari Stampfli’s colleagues say she is a perfect fit for her role as Director of Health Services for MMSD.

“[She] works constantly as a translator between the health services and the district administration”, explains Jill Speer, nominator and colleague. “[Her staff sees] she fights for these standards of health care [and] appreciates the strong focus it provides by being a truly reliable source of information.

Appreciation is mutual. Stampfli notes the challenges his team faced when handling questions, raising awareness, and providing guidance specifically around COVID-19.

“Our schools have closed, but our nurses have not stopped working. … Honestly, we haven’t had a day off since the pandemic started,” Stampfli says. “The staff I work with, they constantly step in when there is a need. It’s not a “no”, it’s “how can we do this, how can we serve better? » ”

At the start of the pandemic, Stampfli instituted a daily Zoom check-in for all health service personnel.

“[The Zoom calls] provided a sense of camaraderie and structure and kept us from feeling so isolated at a time when it would be really easy to feel isolated,” says Speer.

They have also led to greater cohesion between schools.

“We realized that we needed to work as a team to serve the whole MMSD community, so we didn’t just think, ‘This is my school and I’m responsible for this school community,'” Stampfli says.

Today, years after the start of the pandemic, Stampfli remains committed to working as part of a cohesive and supportive team and not reverting to old practices.

Stampfli used funds from the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Grant to build a COVID-19 response team, and she created a surge nursing position to cover staff shortages and illnesses in the aim of bringing nurses back to their typical roles – which go far beyond putting on bandages and distributing vomit bags.

Nursing assistants provide the lion’s share of hands-on care for students. Meanwhile, nurses are involved in case management, care coordination, families’ access to insurance and health care, and attendance at medical appointments. In addition, mental health care is a major component of their work.

“The vast majority of our visits to the health office are those types of visits where kids walk out of class because they’re overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious,” says Stampfli. “It’s a much bigger role than I think people realize.”

Stampfli believes her entire team deserves high-level nursing status. “I feel like I have to acknowledge everyone around me because I really feel like a great leader, usually you have a great team working alongside you.”

Meet the other Innovation Award recipient and learn about the six 2022 Top Nurses Award winners by clicking here. This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Madison Magazine.



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