Calvin nursing students have had the privilege of working with the residents of the Creston and Belknap neighborhoods for several years now. The goal of the partnership between the Calvin Department of Nursing and the Creston/Belknap neighborhoods is to promote the health of the residents in the neighborhoods as well as provide community based experiences for students.
Calvin nursing students, Calvin social work students, and students within the Medical Education and Research Center (MERC) randomly completed a door to door survey of residents of the Creston and Belknap neighborhoods in the spring of 2004.
Some of the findings from that survey include:
- 59% of households have at least one person who smokes
- 31% of households have at least one person with hypertension (high blood pressure)
- 37% of participants in the survey state that the lack of health insurance prevents them from receiving the health care that they need.
- 19% of participants in the survey state that they have had to choose between paying for items like food, rent, and buying medical care
- 23% of participants in the survey pay for prescription medications with cash.
- 8% of participants in the survey sometimes or often do not get the medications prescribed for them
These concerns and access to care for a variety of needs continue to be a concern for the residents.
From this initial data and ongoing neighborhood assessment, a neighborhood strategic plan was established and is updated yearly. First semester junior students participate in activities within the strategic plan. Some of these activities include teaching health related topics to elementary through high school age students, blood pressure and blood sugar screening in food pantries and at neighborhood churches, and working with neighborhood clinic nurses. Junior students also meet with a resident of the neighborhood to promote the individual’s health.
Second semester senior students assist in ongoing neighborhood assessment and review of the strategic plan. Senior students utilize a public health model to plan, publicize, and present the annual Palmer (elementary school) Health Fair. A third major activity for the senior level students is participation in the Community Health Worker (CHW) Program. A lay CHW is paired with two nursing students to create one CHW team. Each team has identified an area to meet with residents, where residents gather, or go door to door talking to residents about their health. One example of a place where residents gather includes Supper House, an outreach of North End Community Ministry (NECM), where residents can be served a free hot meal every Thursday evening. The most frequent concerns asked by residents are access to health care such as where to find dental care and available health clinics, health insurance programs, and prescription assistance programs in the community.
Maintaining a presence in the Creston / Belknap neighborhoods serves a two-fold purpose for the Calvin community: We are able to show to others the compassion that Christ displays to each of us, and also learn valuable lessons from those whose experiences differ from our own.
Health Fair 2008
In addition to working in the Creston/Belknap neighborhood, nursing students now have the opportunity to live in the neighborhood if they wish:
- at the Calvin College Project Neighborhood (PN) Home, the Nizhoni House which means "Beautiful" in Navajo
- at the new Project Neighborhood house: "Crossroads" or Travis Street House. 232 Travis St. NE,
Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Travis Street is located just off of Plainfield and Lenoard.