Meet the team carrying out USN's coronavirus response

These medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses are manning our Health Room and Waiting Room, the school's hub for COVID-19 contact tracing and case management.
By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist

The USN Health Room is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days to care for students, faculty, and staff during students' gradual return to campus and will expand hours to 6 p.m. The Health Room is located in Room 3500 where High School and Lower School connect on the third floor; the medical professionals on the Health Room staff can distribute medications and triage. 

Many of the protocols and practices typical of the Health Room will seem different for returning students. 

This year, anyone in need of Health Room services should check in at the window, not the door. This open window is located at the west end of the third floor hall in the Main Building, near High School Learning Specialist Debbie Van Slyke's Office and the Tech Team Office and Server Room, just before the junction to enter the West Wing.

After checking in, please form a line on the designated garnet floor decals in the hallway; anyone who needs to be seen will be invited into the Health Room through the door. Only two people are allowed in the Health Room at a time. Additionally, there will be no resting or napping in the Health Room, no snacks provided, and use of the microwave is prohibited. 

To reduce congestion in the Health Room, and limit potential exposure to infection, certain complaints will be handled in the classroom. This includes chapped lips, loose teeth, bug bites, minor bumps, bruises, and abrasions.

Anyone experiencing symptoms that overlap with common COVID-19 symptoms should go directly to the USNA Office across from the Bookstore, which has been repurposed into the Waiting Room until further notice.

Common COVID-19 symptoms include cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, fever or chills, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sore throat, headache or muscle aches. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please gather anything you need to go home and go directly to the Waiting Room. From there, Health Room staff will notify parents to pick up their students within an hour of being contacted.

Also, the Waiting Room will serve as USN’s COVID-19 hub for contact tracing and the case management process for any student, faculty, or staff member that receives notification that they should quarantine or be tested due to close contact exposure. Health Room staff are responsible for clearing employees and students to return to school according to protocol as well. Read more on the Health Team FAQ.

USN’s Health Team is made up of an impressive collection of health care professionals — medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses.

Margee Brennan, M.D., is the Health Team Director. Brennan began her USN journey as a parent — her two children Admissions Administrative Assistant Madigan Wheelock ’16 and Quinn Wheelock ’18 are both alumni. Originally from Connecticut, Brennan did her OB-GYN training in the Air Force before moving to Nashville with her husband. Here she practiced as an OB-GYN until 2013. She joined the Health Team a year later and has enjoyed playing a role in the health and welfare of USN students. Brennan is on USN’s Medical Advisory Board formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic where she’s learned a great deal from the other experts on the panel that she’ll be able to apply to the everyday function of the Health Room and Waiting Room.    

“I am grateful to be part of a school that has put so much effort into providing the safest way back to in-person learning. Our primary goal in the Health Room has always been to care for our USN students, faculty, and staff. We are working to streamline operations, improve communications, keep up with the rapidly evolving science, and most of all, provide the care in the health room that we always have,” Brennan said. 

Along with Brennan, the Health Team is staffed by the following:

Jennifer Aaron, N.P., first joined the USN community as a parent, as well; her son Jack is in seventh grade, and Hannah ’15 and William ’17 are alumni. Aaron has a wealth of experience working as a nurse in a variety of settings including a general medicine and infectious diseases floor, a burn ICU, and a cardiovascular ICU. After obtaining her master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner, Aaron’s focus became cardiology — mostly heart failure and transplant; within her practice, she conducted clinical research, led clinical trials, and was the primary study sponsor for Medtronic. In her spare time, Aaron enjoys exercising, baking, reading, live music and traveling. 

Known around campus as “Nurse Amy,” Amy Harkness, R.N., began working in USN’s Health Room when her daughter Amelia Hahn ’17 was in second grade. Harkness worked at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for 14 years with an emphasis in pediatric oncology. Also, she directed a summer camp for children with cancer through the American Cancer Society for 10 years and has several years of hospice nursing experience. 

Annie Hogan, N.P., is new to the Health Team this fall. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies from Ohio State University, Hogan began her career as a Certified Child Life Specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Later, Hogan moved to Nashville to work at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. During her decade of work as a CCLS, Hogan helped children and families adjust to the hospital environment and provided developmentally appropriate teaching and support in a variety of hospital settings. She returned to academia in 2017 to complete her master of science in nursing with a focus on pediatric primary care at Vanderbilt University. Hogan is excited to join the USN community; she enjoys Nashville life with her husband Dan, stepdaughter Maddie, and two goldendoodles Ella and Ruby. 

Kristin Rager, M.D., holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Vanderbilt University, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Louisville, and a master’s in public health from Ohio State University. Rager is board certified in adolescent medicine as well as pediatrics and sees patients in her private practice when not working on the USN Health Team. Rager’s daughter Evan Miller Austill ’30 attends USN.

Josephine Van Devender, R.N., is a valued member of the Health Team as well. She is a former student, and her sons Hugo Ward ’26 and Cecil Ward ‘27, also attend USN.

During this high need time, Jessica Friley '06, N.P., and Amy Neff, M.D., are providing additional Health Team support as needed.
    • USN's Health Team includes (from left) Jennifer Aaron, N.P., Amy Harkness, R.N., Health Team Director Margee Brennan, M.D., Josephine Van Devender, R.N., and Annie Hogan, N.P. Not pictured: Kristin Rager, M.D.

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