Being in health care on a college campus can be challenging even under normal circumstances, but throw COVID-19 into the mix, and the position takes on a whole new level of complexity. Holly Daly of Mount Olive has recently joined the University of Mount Olive as the Director of Health Services, filling the position left vacant when Jo Morgan retired at the end of June, after 23 years at the University.
“I certainly have some big shoes to fill,” Daly said.
According to Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics Dr. Dan Sullivan, Daly is a great fit for UMO and for the position. She holds a BSN, RN, and NCSN, and has over 24 years of nursing experience, 20 of which has been in an educational setting. In 2004, she began working in school health, having served as the school nurse in several high schools, elementary, and middle schools in Wayne County. In 2018, she took on the role of school health manager for Wayne County, and in 2019 the role of Director of Wayne Initiative for School Health, school based health centers in Wayne County. Holly attained National School Nurse Certification in 2007 and was selected as a Wayne UNC Nurse Excellence Winner in 2014. In 2016, Daly received distinction as a North Carolina Great 100 Nurse winner.
“I am excited about the resources Holly brings to our campus,” Sullivan said. “In this position, she will be the primary manager for all student-related health issues including vaccinations, health education, and counseling services. She will also be a valuable resource as we navigate the new COVID-19 world.”
“I love school and community health nursing and enjoy working with people of all ages, but especially young people,” Daly said. “Learning and making healthy decisions as a young person can make a huge difference in lifelong health and outcomes. I look forward to helping make UMO as healthy as possible.”
Daly believes that communication is vital to her role as Director of Health Services. “Being in the public school system, I have worked with students and families of all ages,” she said. “From those experiences I have learned that forming healthy relationships is key. To do that, it takes good communication skills, which includes listening, and building mutual trust and respect.”
In building rapport with students, Daly plans to offer health education programs, attend student activities, and simply get to know the students. “I want to foster a safe and inviting environment in health services where students feel comfortable,” she added. “It would be very difficult to be effective if you are unable to connect with the students. The Maya Angelou quote, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,’ is so applicable. You have to make people feel safe and respected to have any effect on their life.”
Beyond getting to know students and providing for their medical needs, Daly plans to also focus on other key areas of student health. “As Director of Health Services, I will ensure the services provided will address not only physical health needs, but also the social, mental, and emotional needs of students,” she shared. “There will be a strong focus on health education and promotion as well.”
Daly is a key member of UMO’s COVID-19 Task Force, which has been working hard on a plan to keep students, staff, and faculty safe and healthy. Included in that plan has been the creation of an online COVID-19 Response Webpage (www.umo.edu/covid19response) that contains information and resources for students, faculty, and staff regarding the pandemic. Due to the pandemic status of COVID-19, the local health department, Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC are also resources being utilized by Daly.
She advises that the number one way to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic is through prevention. “Even though COVID-19 is new, proven health practices to prevent disease are not,” she said. “The current recommended guidelines of keeping socially distanced by at least six feet, washing hands frequently, wearing a face covering, and staying home when sick are proven ways to decreasing the personal risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
According to Daly, the nationwide prevalence of asymptomatic cases and cases with mild symptoms that go undetected is alarming. “Literally anyone could have COVID-19, be a carrier, and potentially be unware,” she said. “Without masks the risk of spread is high, and with masks the risk of spread is very low. Wearing a mask is a simple and easy was to reduce personal risk and to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.”
With all that lies before her, Daly feels prepared and ready for her new role. “I love the Mount Olive community and the people in it,” she said. “I enjoy working in the community that I live in, and I am very happy to be part of the UMO family.”
Daly and her husband, Chris, are the parents of three children Christopher (20); Carson (17), and Cuyler (14).