School nurse Martha Runyan means the world to the Bell family. Her fast-thinking and attention to detail likely saved the life of Tyson Bell. Tyson, who just completed the 8th grade at Bennett’s Mill Middle, was diagnosed with a rare and potentially-fatal condition thanks to Nurse Martha’s caring heart.
“Our hearts are so full of gratitude,” said Tyson’s mother, Marcielle. “Nurse Martha Runyan’s attentiveness and responsiveness quite literally helped save my son’s life!”
Shortly after the start of the school year, Tyson began showing symptoms of an asthmatic cough. Nurse Martha urged the family to get an asthma care plan on file and assured them Tyson would be in good care.
In October 2022, Tyson was diagnosed with pneumonia. Nurse Martha helped oversee Tyson as he self-administered breathing treatments, and she encouraged him to visit her anytime he needed. She checked in with him regularly, and she called home with regular updates.
“She indeed kept her word,” said Marcielle. “He was in good care during the school day.”
During final exam week in December, the situation worsened. Tyson was coughing intensely, and the asthma plan protocol was only bringing temporary relief. Nurse Martha had previously been skeptical of the asthma/pneumonia diagnosis and urged Marcielle to get him to the doctor.
Within 24 hours, Tyson had gone to the ER and was diagnosed with Plastic Bronchitis triggered by asthma/allergies. CT scans and pathology reports revealed he had lung casts forming that had blocked over 80% of the airways in his left lung. He had two lung surgeries, the first lasted nearly 5 hours, and the second procedure was 2 hours. Home treatments included 3 different inhalers, 1 nebulizer saline, 2 nasal sprays, and 20 minutes on an airway clearance system, each four times a day. Both procedures introduced risk of collapsing, scarring, or puncturing his lungs because they involved use of scopes and cryoprobes being inserted into lower airways of his lungs to remove the casts.
Tyson was in the hospital for a total of 9 days. By winter break, he was back home celebrating being healed.
“The phone call Nurse Martha Runyan made to me led to a remarkable sequence of life-saving events for my son Tyson,” said Marcielle. “I am certain it was the collective efforts of every medical professional, pediatrician, emergency services, and advanced pediatric pulmonary teams that helped in his swift recovery, all led by divine favor. However, in this entire ordeal there is one very special person on earth who stands out to us far above others, Martha Runyan.”
Despite how many kids she has to care for, she always managed to make Tyson feel like he was the most important student.
“Nurse Martha is an absolutely rare gem! She performs her role as school nurse with a humility that is inspiring. Her gentle spirit and genuine nature made Tyson feel welcomed to visit with her, and she provided great care. She demonstrated integrity and was consistent in her interactions with Tyson and our family. Simply refreshing,” said Marcielle. “Her medical insight is bar none and well exceeds the status quo for school nursing support. She truly cares and shows it.”
For Marcielle, Bennett’s Mill’s principles and leadership were much-needed during a trying time.
“I applaud Tyson’s Bennett’s Mill Middle educators for their heart-felt humanity and especially thank Nurse Martha Runyan for being his ‘guardian angel,’” she said. “All of his teachers, his counselor Tanji Tucker, and Assistant Principal Rica Smith went above and beyond by checking in on Tyson’s status, and many shared prayers for his speedy recovery. Tyson was in the hospital during the school break, so it meant the world for him to know that BMMS faculty and staff cared enough to think of him on their days off during a very difficult time.”
Nurse Runyan is a key part of the Bennett’s Mill family, and Principal JP Ward is thankful she’s a Bronco.
“Nurse Runyan has a compassionate nature and shows kindness to every student who walks through her door. She shows genuine care and concern for our students’ well-being,” said Ward. “Her contributions have not gone unnoticed by the entire Bennett’s Mill school community. The parents, teachers, and staff members have all expressed their admiration and appreciation for her outstanding work. Her dedication serves as an inspiration to us all, and she sets a high standard for healthcare professionals in our educational environment.”