Broken limbs, strains, head injuries and every conceivable ailment – Sister Linda James has seen them all in the Sanatorium during her 35 years at Eton.
By the time she retires from the role at the end of this half, she will have been involved with caring for the health and wellbeing of thousands of boys, teachers and other staff at the College.
Linda joined Eton after a nursing career which included specialising in spinal injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. When she first arrived at the school x-rays still took place and anaesthetics were still administered. While they don’t happen anymore the role of the health team has grown, offering asthma clinics, physiotherapy and counselling. There are 14 beds allowing for close supervision of a range of conditions from concussion to glandular fever.
The team of doctors and nurses can play a vital role in managing care for boys with serious or on-going illnesses, for example by being a direct contact for hospital consultants. The level of medical care available at Eton has meant that even boys with serious conditions such as cancer have been able to return to school soon after, or occasionally during, their treatment.
“It’s not just about the work we do here, it’s about seeing the bigger picture,” said Linda. “It’s about how that illness or injury affects the boy’s life in school, or in their house. That’s what’s really important.”
Linda looks back on her time with great fondness.
“I’m really lucky to have had a job I have liked and never tired of for 35 years,” she said. “I feel I have done my very best to give the best care possible over the years.”
The Lower Master Bob Stephenson said: “Linda is a fantastic nurse with exceptional skills in triage. She can spot a malingerer at 400 metres, although sometimes her tender care in the San was just what they needed and she was discerning enough to let them through! Genuinely ill boys were always in very safe hands with Linda.”