October 2004: One of two RNs with the Bethel School District, Annemarie Hirsch divides her time between Danebo, Fairfield and Malabon Elementary, Cascade Middle, Willamette High and Calapooya Alternative High Schools. “I try to go to each school one day a week,” she says. Hirsch grew up in Norway, then moved at age 18, to a commune near Crow. She got a nursing degree from LCC and worked at Sacred Heart before returning to school for a BS and certification as a school nurse. She started work for Bethel in 1998. “I work with students and families who have health issues,” Hirsch says. “I’m an advocate for students in terms of getting medical care.” She also trains school staff to care for students with health problems or disabilities. “Each year I do a public-health project,” she adds. “This year it’s the obesity epidemic.”
2013 update: The obesity project turned into a five-year grant-funded study by the Oregon Research Institute. “I helped with data gathering,” says Hirsch, who also won a state planning grant that led to founding of the Bethel Health Center, now a United Way-funded agency, offering care to district students, younger siblings and area Head Start kids. “No one is turned away for lack of ability to pay.” Located in Cascade Middle School at 1525 Echo Hollow Road, BHC will celebrate its second anniversary with an open house from 4 to 6 pm Wednesday, May 15.