The UNC School of Nursing served the community through Project Homeless Connect on Nov. 4. This one-stop event at the Hargraves Community Center in Chapel Hill provided services such as job-readiness resources, health and dental care, mental health assistance, social services, legal services and housing to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Project Homeless Connect is a key initiative of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and has served nearly 600 guests since 2007.
SON Associate Dean for Community Partnerships & Practice, Sonda Oppewal, acted as a Co-Chair for Project Homeless Connect’s Health Committee. She solicited ideas from SON faculty about how the School might be involved, bringing some new ideas and services to the event. For example, guests were guided to relevant health services using new health intake forms developed by SON. The forms facilitated the use of clinical judgment based on interviews with the guests about past and current health problems.
Oppewal also helped assure there were sufficient health care providers, a need that SON helped meet with three nurse practitioners — Clinical Instructor Carrie Palmer, Clinical Assistant Professor and MSN Coordinator Jean Davison and Clinical Assistant Professor Victoria Cryer. Guests with high blood pressures, high cholesterol or glucose were directed to the nurse practitioners for counseling and referral (if needed).
Clinical Instructor Louise Fleming served as an active member of the Health Committee and recruited students to participate. Other faculty who participated included Clinical Associate Professor Eric Hodges, Clinical Assistant Professor Liska Lackey, Clinical Assistant Professor Diane Yorke, Dean Kristen Swanson, and Clinical Instructor Angela Clark. Clinical Assistant Professor Megan Williams also supported the project as the advisor to ANS.
Before the event SON Association of Nursing Students helped collect toiletry kits that were distributed before Nov. 4 as part of outreach efforts to tell homeless people about Project Homeless Connect. During the event 27 students assisted with intake forms, providing health information, helping with eye exams, and assisted in escorting guests to various stations. Students also gave manicures this year, which provided a new opportunity for therapeutic communication and health education reinforcement. A health bingo game was another new feature that reinforced health education.
Sara Smith, a senior BSN student helped give manicures. She said that the event was a great opportunity to help and volunteer. She had not participated before and was surprised by the number of children and women that made up the the homeless population of Chapel Hill.