Students and Faculty Volunteer at Project Homeless Connect

Eric Hodges (left) was one of the School of Nursing faculty members that volunteered at Project Homeless Connect. Photo by Laura Shmania, http://www.butterflites.com

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.

UNC faculty and students helped with many of the stations at the Project Homeless Connect event. They assisted with health histories and intake, provided health information, gave manicures, took blood pressure, and assisted in escorting guests to various stations.

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.  She said it was an eye-opening experience.

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. She said it was an eye-opening experience.

 

SON Student Continues Volunteer Service in Mexican Village

Leilani Trowell, a rising senior nursing student, is doing a one-month summer residency in the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle just outside of Oaxaca City, Mexico.

I thought you would appreciate another update!

I spent the first three days of work at the clinic walking around the village again. There are campaigns three times a year in February, May and September. I just happened to appear during the May campaign, but we are still working on keeping everyone vaccinated. This time we drove since we needed to get up to the mountainous area to reach some residents.

Blanca, the only English-speaking nurse, told me about how many people would get upset and refuse to get the vaccinations. They try to explain the vaccinations but sometimes their explanations aren’t effective. In my experience, everyone has just listened. But the stories puzzled me. I can understand why some would refuse to allow a male physician to help birth a baby, not take medicines because the side effects are more debilitating than the sickness itself, or rely on folk medicine practitioners. But it’s very important to get vaccinated to prevent sickness. But maybe it is a cultural difference that I do not understand. I tried to explore it with Blanca but the view of biomedicine in American culture will always be somewhat different from what other cultures believe.

The next two days, I helped around the clinic. I got the vital signs and height/weight of patients who needed consultations and changed out the sheets and medical instruments in the consultation rooms. I cleaned the instruments using a mixture of bleach and detergent, then, we wrapped up the instruments in paper. Blanca said it’s to keep them “sterile” but the instruments are contaminated before they get wrapped up in the paper that is also considered contaminated. Is sterile another word that translates differently in another culture?

I really like my coworkers. They are very friendly and fun. We sit around the kitchen table laughing. I have to straighten my hair and take out my piercing when I’m at the clinic. I usually take out my piercing for the UNC clinicals but I’ve never had issues with my hair since it’s short and usually it is satisfactory to keep it pinned up away from my face. However, they do not like my curly hair. Some of my coworkers have come at me armed with spray bottles and cream to flatten my hair against my skull so it would be “work-appropriate.”

I’ve been to a couple of parties, including one at an artists’ collective in the city. Another was a dinner party held by some students studying abroad from Berkeley. This now makes sense to me since most live at home with their parents, even when they get married!

I hope you are enjoying what I have to say. Let me know your thoughts!

Leilani

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