LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Vanessa Long

Position: School Nurse
School: Oak Park School District
School District: Oak Park School District
City, State: Oak Park, MI

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Music that Describes Vanessa

Vanessa Long was nominated by her colleague, Carol Diglio.

Ms. Long has been a nurse since 2004. Most recently, she served as an NICU nurse at William Beaumont Hospital. During the height of the pandemic, she signed up with the Oakland County Health Department as a COVID response public health school nurse to give back to her community.  Luckily, she was assigned to Oak Park Schools in Oak Park, MI.

"The day I met her, I knew she was a leader who was living out her calling as a medical professional," said Diglio.  "She is kind, compassionate, empathetic, organized, and a master multi-tasker. Most importantly, the children trust and adore her.  Nurse Long is the walking definition of a LifeChanger."

Shortly after her assignment to Oak Park, a full-time district nurse position became available, and Ms. Long was asked to consider joining the staff permanently.  Like many urban districts, Oak Park serves a high-need, underserved, diverse population of students and families. In addition to being in the midst of a global pandemic, the district was out of compliance in terms of basic school health protocols such as:

  • expired or no EpiPens at the building levels;
  • a lack of training for medical emergencies;
  • no evidence of individual medical plans for conditions such as allergies, diabetes, or seizures;
  • no system for intake, administration, and storage of medication;
  • high levels of students out of compliance with childhood immunizations;
  • expired and/or out of service AEDs, and;
  • an overall lack of K-12 systemic protocols to meet student health needs.

On top of all this, there was an urgency to identify, write, and implement a return-to-school plan for COVID-19.  Needless to say, that did not deter Ms. Long, as she left her job at the hospital to serve K-12 education in its most vulnerable state.

Ms. Long officially became Oak Park’s district nurse in November 2020.  The impact she has had on her school district in less than 12 months, during a global pandemic, is astounding.  She has been instrumental in supporting her district with the alignment of new school health programming, face-to-face training at each building, COVID-19 reporting and close contact tracing, and supporting the efforts to improve childhood immunizations.  She has brought in a number of community partnerships to provide Oak Park Schools and the community of Oak Park with COVID-19 testing every Wednesday, six childhood immunization clinics, two COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and future clinics scheduled. 

Ms. Long's personality is what makes her a LifeChanger.  She exudes kindness and love.  She is a local rockstar to children.  Her tenacity, advocacy, and determination to make sure the Oak Park Schools community has access to health care prevention and ongoing education makes her a LifeChanger.

"It is with the utmost respect and personal gratitude that we nominate Vanessa Long for LifeChanger of the Year," said Diglio.

Comments (22)

Rashonda Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of communicating with nurse Vanessa via email and she was extremely helpful and timely. She made a situation that seemed very stressful, easy to handle. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was truly delighted after her assistance because she cared about the outcome.

Nicole Mullen Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is always positive and very deserving of this nomination. She is definitely an asset to Oak Park and the community she serves.

Madison Sabbath Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is such an amazing, kind, genuine superwoman and I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to work with her! An incredible advocate, communicator, nurse and colleague.

Yoshanna Cardenas Posted over a year ago

Nurse Long is truly a LifeChanger and is so deserving of this recognition. She's always willing to go above and beyond to assist the Students, Staff, Parents and Community Members of Oak Park!

Amy Maurice Posted over a year ago

Thanks for being such a good communicator! I appreciate you!

Darlene Martin Posted over a year ago

Extremely helpful, knowledgeable and always friendly. So good to have a school nurse on staff and in the bldg. when needed!

Tiffany A Mitchell Posted over a year ago

Your wonderful

Carissa Peterson Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is a wonderful nurse, but most importantly, she is an exceptional human being. She is empathetic and thoughtful, always looking out for those around her across the entire school community. Vanessa is a leader yet truly knows what it takes to work as a team. She is constantly available and supportive. Our district is a far better place because of her.

Amy Sielagoski Posted over a year ago

I met Vanessa Long last school year when we were virtual. She made an immediate impact on me. When we were overwhelmed by the state’s ever-changing Covid 19 mandates, she was always available to give advice, offer an opinion, or help guide us to understanding. I’ve recently had the pleasure to work with her this school year to help coordinate our lunchroom in providing social distancing and contact tracing procedures. She is a compassionate, hard working, dedicated individual who knows how to get the job done! The students and staff at Oak Park are extremely lucky to have her!

Sarah Jones Posted over a year ago

Nurse Long is a wonderful person to work with. She has come into my building and worked with myself and other staff members on creating an environment where our students can eat and build community in our lunchroom as safely as possible. She is also an amazing nurse that relates to the children very well. The children I. oak Park are grateful to her; they are her highest priority. In all Nurse Long works very hard and is dedicated to the work she is doing in the Oak Park School district.

Mary Beth Western Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is an incredible nurse. She has worked tirelessly for the Oak Park School District. She has made sure that my students have all the necessary documents and assistance to care for their health issues! She responds immediately and makes things happen for kids! Nurse Long is consistent in checking on our students with health needs, trains the staff involved and works with the parents to coordinate services. She really cares about our kids. We are SO blessed to have her at Oak Park Schools!

Jim Nye Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is amazing. (I believe this word is generally overused, but It truly fits her, so it’s getting typed here). Covid-19 has been a horrible time for schools and the community. Vanessa came in and started doing anything and everything she could to educate everyone, make shots available here onsite, hold clinics, add safety technology to the buildings, create procedures that didn’t exist, train staff, and be there for everyone during an incredibly scary time. She’s always there day and night when she’s needed, and beyond responsive to calls and texts. Wonderful human being that truly cares. I haven’t seen her as much as a nurse, but more as a health leader in our school community. I’m grateful that she works in our District and can’t imagine where we’d be without her.

SUsan Sabbath Posted over a year ago

Love vanessa

Teveta Parris Posted over a year ago

Nurse Vanessa Long is my co-worker. She has been awesome from the first day I met her at the Oak Park School District. Nurse Vanessa has a bubbling, loving, caring and kind spirit. She is dedicated to taking care of the medical needs of our students and staff on campus. Our school district is blessed to have Nurse Vanessa providing us with her service.

Alnita Jackson-Trice Posted over a year ago

Vanessa is a "Rock Star". She is super helpful and really care all the people she come in contact with. We love her!

Emily De La Cruz Posted over a year ago

Vanessa has a been a huge blessing to the Oak Park Schools community! She has taken initiative to help the schools become fully trained in the case of a medical crisis, being fully available to share her knowledge with all levels of personnel. Additionally, given the intensity of educating through a pandemic, Vanessa has been invaluable in creating policies that have allowed the teachers and students to safely return to the in-person instruction that is needed to support our kids academically. I feel thankful to be supported by her and have learned a lot about Epipens, seizure response, and diabetes. She is an extremely deserving nominee and I hope that she is chosen!

Dominique Pitts Posted over a year ago

Vanessa Long is my younger sister. She is the type of person that will get things done. She does not procrastinate and she takes a lot of pride in everything that she does. Vanessa is good at multitasking, and she's extremely meticulous, which makes her an excellent nurse. Her patient care and her care for people has always exceeded expectation. She loves people and she especially loves children. She is an amazing mother to her own children and an amazing aunt to mine. She never hesitates to jump in and help during an emergency. Vanessa is kind, loving and brilliant. She was born to care for others so being a nurse comes naturally. I am always incredibly proud of my sister. I'm proud that she was nominated for this much deserved award.

Jackie Kincaid Posted over a year ago

I have known Vanessa dice she was a little girl.She has always shown compassion & kindness to people even before coming a nurse. Vanessa has had a very good role model her whole life her mother. She also was a nurse for many years and my best friend.

Eyvonne Scott Posted over a year ago

Vanessa Long Vanessa Long, is an outstanding person in so many ways. She is the sister in law to our daughter in love, Dr. Tara Scott. My husband, Jim, and I have watched her interacting with both adult family members, children and friends. She always shows love, compassion and a welcoming smile with a warmth of friendship. Her smile and friendly attitude can easily put one at ease and feeling as though she’s a loving member of your own family. Another friendly feature is her bedside manner. She can easily ease the fears of anyone under her care. Besides working as a nurse, she has volunteered as a classroom mom, and also helped with school projects for the children. When her daughters wanted to play soccer one year, their team had no soccer coach. So what did they do? Well, you guessed it! Vanessa took off her nurse cap and put on her “after school soccer mom’s cap!” She became a coach for the team, so that her children and others could play! That has been the life of Vanessa Long! Always looking for ways to reach out and help others, she truly displays unconditional love, as a wife, mother, nurse, daughter, sister and great friend! Without a doubt, Vanessa deserves to be recognized for this nomination and so much more! She is a beautiful person!??

Mary Wilson Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Vanessa Long since she was a teen. I knew her compassion and energy would create a wonderful nurse. Once she had children she naturally became a strong advocate for all children, especially in healthcare matters. She is the perfect example of a life changer.

Kimberly Bernreuter Posted over a year ago

I have had the honor of knowing Vanessa since our daughters crossed paths 6 years ago. As a fellow mother and healthcare worker I am continually amazed at the level of dedication and involvement Vanessa pours into our community. She tirelessly fills roles within the Berkley athletic community (thru school and city organizations) while simultaneously working in one of the most difficult specialties in nursing, NICU, prior to her current role (including during the COVID pandemic). She met her new role with the same passion and tenacity she brings to all of her endeavors. Her latest challenge? Assess, review, develop and implement a system to serve the students in the Oak Park School system so they could return to a safe learning environment. This not only included drawing up multiple COVID protocols for the system, but also obtaining new AEDs, training and communicating with staff on all the new equipment and processes, organizing and executing vaccination fairs and continuous improvement of the protocols and systems she created. All of this while remaining actively involved in the athletic role(s) previously mentioned. Vanessa is one of those extraordinary individuals that possess the ability to identify what needs to be done, the acumen to create the solution and the determination and resolve to see it come to fruition. She demonstrates this level of commitment with her own children, those in her local community, the NICU she once worked in, and now with the students in the Oak Park school system. The changes she has made and programs she has created will benefit the current and future students in the Oak Park school system for years to come.

Jan Hill RN Posted over a year ago

I am Vanessa Longs mother and I am immensely proud of my dear daughter! Vanessa has been a life changer since the day she was born. She has never stepped back from any challenge she only steps forward. In addition to her love of nursing and love of her Oak Park family she supports her 3 children, husband and dog Kobe in every way possible. Again I am amazed by my wonderful daughter and am delighted by this well deserved nomination.