Barbara Pickett

Barbara Pickett, the first Appomattox County School Nurse

(Within the last several weeks, the Times Virginian has featured installments of an article written by Barbara Pickett, who in 1967 became the first official school nurse at Appomattox County Public Schools. An article about Pickett’s views on the COVID-19 pandemic and advances in medicine first appeared in the July 1 edition. Today, Pickett discusses, in her own words, crippled children, poverty and nutrition during her time as school nurse.)

Crippled Children

The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation sent out to high school students a “Needs Identification” form which gave a picture of the conditions under which many labored to get an education. They included: loss of limb, crippled legs, arms or back, poor eyesight, hard of hearing, heart trouble (often caused by untreated streptococcal infections which became rheumatic fever), asthma, fainting spells (epilepsy has been with humanity since Alexander the Great and before, and still remains), tuberculosis (a friend of mine missed a year of high school, having to go to a tuberculosis hospital to rest for a cure prior to the anti-tuberculosis drugs’ development, cleft lip or cleft palate, speech difficulty, diabetes and other conditions. 

For children under 17 years of age, Crippled Children’s Hospital could provide care on an income-scaled rate. Many were treated at no cost for congenital deformities, affections or infections of growing bones and joints, neuromuscular disabilities, fractures, eye diseases and deformities, and by plastic surgery for congenital deformities or those from injuries such as burns. Also, Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville provided excellent clinics and hospital treatment for children with various other afflictions such as diabetes, heart defects and epilepsy as well as orthopedic, eye, ear and throat conditions and maladies. 

There’s more to this story in the current issue of the Times Virginian newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at to view the full article in the e-edition version.