Bilingual school nurse goes above and beyond for her students and their families

KRLD Difference Makers

Veronica De La Torre already had a full plate as a registered nurse at a local hospital, but when a recruiter mentioned some astounding news, it spurred her into action.

"The recruiter didn't know anything about me. She didn't know that I'm asthmatic or that my kids are asthmatic. But she told me that kids every year in the school district die from preventable asthma-related causes and I was flabbergasted," she said.

The bombshell stayed on Veronica's mind and she decided she needed to do something about it.

Along with her just as a hospital RN, Veronica is also the school nurse at Dallas ISD's Young Women's STEAM Academy, an all-girls school which focuses on math and engineering, which also has a number of special education units. Many of the special education students need special care and one-on-one time with teachers.

When COVID hit, Veronica took it upon herself to check on her students, speaking to at least five students a day to make sure they were getting the medications they needed and advising students and their parents on how to get their medications if they didn't have them. Veronica even went as far as teaching parents how to do an online appointment with their physicians.

But as she spoke to her students, many of whom are Spanish speakers, she realized how many parents had COVID-19 and were not getting treatment.

"I could hear in the background people coughing, not being able to breathe. Or they would tell me things like they tested positive and didn't know what to do after that and got sent home so I actually met a few of these families at local hospitals so they could seek treatment," Veronica said.

Veronica noticed a massive language barrier especially at testing sites, where she said few people spoke Spanish.

She went as far as meeting families at the Young Women's STEAM Academy campus in their cars and having them follow her to a hospital so they could seek treatment because many of them didn't know what to do or how to get to the hospital. She spent many late nights on the phone with her students and their families.

For Veronica, helping others is just part of why she became a nurse.

"Just checking on these kids is how I found out about their family members and it really tugs at your heart. When I could hear the angst in my students voices and they are so worried about it, I'm worried about it, too," she said. "If I could get them the help they need, that's why I became a nurse, to help people."

We're proud to call Veronica De La Torre this week's KRLD Difference Maker.

If you know someone making a difference in the community, send us an email at differencemaker@krld.com.