Nursing students, faculty participate in New Orleans health fair
Contact: Christina Chapple
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(1) COMMUNITY NURSING AT ITS BEST – At Greater New Orleans Medical Recovery Week Southeastern Louisiana University nursing student pose with members of the Louisiana National Guard, who were providing security for the week long health fair. From left, front, are Rachel Ray, Hammond; Jennifer Morris, Chalmette; Kayla Schneeweiss, Kentwood; back, Bruce Posecai, Jefferson; Mary Nichols, Baton Rouge; Kristy McMurray, Denham Springs; Kelli Schneeweiss, Kentwood; and Dawn Alford, Hammond. Approximately 40 Southeastern students along with members of the nursing faculty participated during three days of the health fair.
(2) TAKING VITAL SIGNS – Southeastern Louisiana University Kristy McMurray of Denham Springs gathers information from a client at the Greater New Orleans Medical Recovery Week.
HAMMOND – Faculty and students from Southeastern Louisiana University’s School of Nursing called their participation in the recent Greater New Orleans Medical Recovery Week "an eye-opening experience."
Held Jan. 28-Feb. 3 at Joe W. Brown Memorial Park in New Orleans East, the free medical fair was designed to provide a variety of medical services to New Orleanians, many still struggling with health care and insurance challenges a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina.
Barbara Moffett, head of the School of Nursing, and faculty members Cathy Cormier, Kristin Whitty, Penny Thomas, Tonia Vessel and Robin Brou accompanied approximately 40 senior and junior nursing students for three days at the health fair, Jan. 28, 30 and 31.
The weeklong event was sponsored by Operation Blessing International and Remote Access Medical (RAM) in conjunction with the City of New Orleans Health Department and International Medical Alliance. Approximately 400 doctors and dentists from institutions such as the Mayo Clinic flew in from throughout the world to treat more than 5,000 patients during the seven-day fair.
Southeastern students and faculty assisted with triage, gathering medical histories and screening clients’ vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and respiration.
"The first day more than 100 people were waiting outside when we arrived," Cornier said. "Some of them had been waiting since 5 a.m."
"For many of these people, this was their only opportunity to seek health care since [a similar medical service week] last year," Moffett said. “It was pretty amazing for our students to see," added Cormier. "We all take for granted that our health care providers will always be there."
Southeastern nursing students agreed. “I was able to recognize the major health conditions the people of New Orleans are dealing with,” said Emily Swalm of Slidell. “It was an eye-opener as to the availability of health care in the area. I realize that community health care, specifically community nursing, is coming to the forefront."
John Penton of Baton Rouge found his fluency in Spanish in demand, as he was pressed into service to help Hispanic clients overcome the language barrier.
“My participation in Operation Blessing was invaluable because it gave me an opportunity to apply both my nursing and language skills in a community setting,” Penton said.
“Being able to take so many BP's one right after another was great practice,” said Kelli Schneeweiss, a senior from Kentwood. “Seeing other nurses in action from all over the country was a great experience. Experiencing working in the same area with doctors and nurses from all around the world was cool. It was amazing to seeing the team from Taiwan, all very nice and with smiles on their faces. I loved it.”
Whitty reported that when her group of students waved goodbye at the end of the day, they were rewarded with a standing ovation from the grateful New Orleanians they had served.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students to experience this,” Moffett said. “Sometimes students have such a mind-set about nursing being in a hospital. This was community nursing at its best."
School of Nursing and other Southeastern faculty volunteers also participated last year in the first Greater New Orleans Medical Recovery Week, which served more than 3,900 people.