Calvin Nursing Neighborhood Partnership
Churches, children laughing and playing on the sidewalks, older folks walking down the street, some new homes and new schools and some green areas - This is Baxter-Madison.
The Baxter/Madison Neighborhoods and Calvin College Department of Nursing formed a partnership in 2002. The goal of the partnership is to provide community based experiences for students which meet curriculum objectives and promote the health of the residents in the Baxter/Madison neighborhoods.
First semester junior nursing students have had a wide variety of experiences in the neighborhoods. They each spend a day working with a nurse in the wholistic health clinic located in the enlarged/remodeled Baxter Community Center. Nursing students in pairs teach two health related topics (hand washing, teeth brushing, self-esteem, nutrition, exercise etc.) to students in Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy, Southeast Academic and Madison Elementary Schools.
Each student spends part of a day shadowing the school nurse to see what her role was in caring for the children of the neighborhood and assisting the nurse as appropriate.Every student also meets with a resident in a neighborhood senior housing facility. In addition to getting to know the person, they complete an extensive health assessment, and from that an area of need for health teaching is completed with the resident.
Some statistics from a neighborhood survey completed by nursing students in 2003 are:
- 51% agree that lack of health insurance prevents them from receiving the health care they need
- 49% have at least one person with hypertension
- 34% have at least one person with asthma
- 34% have at least one person with arthritis
- 24% have at least on person with diabetes
- 23% state they have to choose between paying for items like food or rent and buying medical care.
These issues as well as access to care for a variety of needs continue to be concerns of residents. To facilitate these voiced needs, senior nursing students are paired with a neighborhood resident-community health worker. Each week they go door to door to provide resources and teaching for individual concerns.
Students also spend time with neighborhood parents to share ways in which they can decrease chances of children being poisoned by the lead dust from paint or soil in and around these older homes. During the visits, demonstration of specific cleaning practices, reading food labels and sharing of foods to decrease absorption of lead in the children’s blood are included.
This has been a very beneficial partnership for both the neighborhood and the nursing students. Students are provided with a variety of valuable learning experiences while responding to needs of and serving a diverse, vulnerable population, Jesus' own precious children - young and old alike.