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For the very poorest individuals who don't have health insurance, visiting the doctor is not an option until there's a medical crisis. For others, they may go to the emergency room to get routine care. In an effort to reach out to these individuals, nursing students from Missouri State University are reaching out to the homeless and individuals staying in shelters to provide some basic services. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.
This time last year, there was no clinic at Victory Square in Springfield. The facility is like a dorm, a residence for men enrolled in the Victory Trade School. Many of the residents don't have health coverage or a means to get routine healthcare. That's why two nursing students from Missouri State University decided to set up a clinic in the facility where residents could get health assessments, blood pressure checks and wallet-sized cards to help them keep track of their medical information.
Nursing student Breanna Merriott helped set up the clinic. She says residents come see her for a variety of reasons.
Merriott says she's able to offer suggestions to patients on improving their diet or lowering their blood pressure. She says it's been a meaningful experience.
Aaron Davis helped Breanna Merriott set up the clinic at Victory Square. He says the clinic had humble beginnings.
Davis says working with a disadvantaged population has changed his outlook.
Davis and Merriott work at Victory Square thanks to an integrated service learning opportunity for nursing students at Missouri State University. Susan Sims-Giddens is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing. She says students helped develop this course and the community component four years ago.
The expansion includes the new clinic at Victory Square. Regardless of where the students are working, the goal is to create sustainable programs that will meet an ongoing need in the community. Sims-Giddens says having nursing students available to work with the uninsured should reduce unnecessary trips to the emergency room.
And it seems the nursing students are having an impact. They hope to do more than just provide basic health assessments. They want to develop a relationship with their clients, many of whom have never had an ongoing relationship with a healthcare provider. Sims-Giddens says the doctors who regularly work with these populations appreciate the work the nursing students are doing.
And if they do need follow-up, the nursing students can help with that too...
Nursing students from Missouri State University contribute between 3000 and 3400 hours total each semester at community agencies.