Volunteer Nurses Needed!

A partnership between the St. Joseph County Fair and Covered Bridge Healthcare will enhance the already-established first aid offerings at the Fair.

The Centreville-based clinic will collaborate with “Nurse Betty” Meyer and her crew as well as Life Care Ambulance to make the annual event even safer for everyone.

“From a health standpoint, we all work together to help each other,” said Rick Shaffer, Covered Bridge Healthcare CEO.

A medical presence on the grounds will begin on Saturday, Sept. 18, and continue through Sunday, Sept. 26 – ensuring coverage not only for Fair Week but also camper setup and takedown.

When campers arrive, they will receive healthcare brochures, including a map denoting the location of healthcare facilities.

Covered Bridge Healthcare will bring its mobile unit, facilitating same-day visits and pharmaceutical services; Life Care will assist with on-the-grounds triage.

According to Kris Kirsch, vice president of the Fair Board whose areas of oversight include first aid, said that in 2019, there were 200 visits to the first aid station – for incidents ranging from bee stings to scraped knees to getting bucked off a horse.

To ensure continuity of care, Covered Bridge Healthcare has developed standard medical protocols for the most common injuries over the last 40 years.

The first aid station, a white building located at the west end of the Fairgrounds just before Kiddie Land, provides many services.

“You name it, we probably have it to help someone,” said Nurse Betty, who has led a team of a dozen volunteer nurses at the fair for decades.

Offerings include a rocking chair for nursing mothers, pads for changing babies, diapers, formula, water and air filters, heat, air conditioning, wheelchairs, baby strollers, walkers and crutches.

And good old-fashioned kindness.

“If all you need is a little TLC, we’ll do that,” she said.

Volunteer nurses are needed to assist in this endeavor; shift length is flexible. Compensation involves a designated parking area and free admission to the Fair. Anyone willing to volunteer may call Nurse Betty at (269) 496-7507.

Nurse Betty worked as Three Rivers’ school nurse from April 1967 until she was laid off in 1990. During that time, she helped in the Fair’s first aid tent in the evenings. The Red Cross oversaw the effort, but when they withdrew, she stepped into the lead role.

In addition to her nursing duties, she also dresses up as a talking cow to greet third-graders who come to the Fair’s “Ag-Citing Experience.”

“If I can make one kid happy, I’m happy to do it,” she said.

Kirsch said the fair will also have more of a health emphasis this year, with a daily two-hour “Focus on Health” program in the Community Tent. The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency will be on hand to give vaccinations.