Southeast Nursing Students Lending Hand with Project Homeless Connect Oct. 4

2013_HH_NursingCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 2, 2013 – Students in Southeast Missouri State University’s “Community Health Nursing” along with the University’s S.H.O.W. Mobile will provide services to those who are homeless at Project Homeless Connect scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Osage Community Center in Cape Girardeau.

The Osage Center will be abuzz on Friday, Oct. 4, with service providers, students, volunteers and people who are homeless from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The purpose of the event is to organize, for one day, a one-stop shop of services for people who need them most. Using the Project Homeless Connect model, a person experiencing homelessness is able to obtain as many services in one day as would otherwise take months,” said Dr. Linda Garner, assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at Southeast Missouri State University.

Garner, who attended the event last year, realized how organized and productive it was to the community and decided to participate this year. This time, she decided to have her 28 students in the “Community Health Nursing” course assist.

Kaitlin Schaller of Lee’s Summit, Mo., a senior who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Southeast, is one of the students who will assist. She first got interested in nursing when she went on a mission trip to Nicaragua when she was a senior in high school. A doctor and a nurse accompanied them as medical missionaries and set up a clinic, assisting more than 500 people in a week. After that, she realized she wanted to make a career of nursing and continue to provide assistance in the future to those in need.

“It’s a good community outreach and helps people in the community,” Schaller said. “We expect about 200 people. It’ll be pretty great, and I’m excited to help with it.”

Schaller says she will rotate through a variety of booths along with the other students. They will assist with health histories, HIV and AIDS testing, various screenings, administration of immunizations, diabetes foot care and vision screenings. The students will also provide health education.

“Students are able to see firsthand the value of providing services under one roof to ensure that participants do not fall through the cracks. The coordinated event decreases the frustration often experienced by disadvantaged people who become discouraged when they contact agency after agency for help and ultimately give up on receiving the services they need due to a disjointed service delivery system,” Garner said.

At the event, a variety of services will be offered. These needs and services include medical/dental, housing, employment and social services.

There will be health education programs and health screenings sponsored by the Cape Girardeau Public Health Center and on-site care from area dentists. People will also receive help in obtaining items such as birth certificates and photo identification. Individuals and families who need a certain kind of assistance will be matched with a volunteer who will provide personal assistance in guiding them to the services they may require.

Services such as haircuts and clothing are also likely to be offered as well as lunch, according to Garner.

Transportation to and from the event will be provided by the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority.

The Southeast S.H.O.W Mobile will have two volunteer dentists on hand who will examine patients, provide dental assessments and perform teeth extractions.

Community Caring Council of Cape Girardeau is organizing the event. Other organizations are contributing to the event by providing donations, supplies and service providers.

The event began in San Francisco in 2005 and has since spread across the nation, as well as to Australia and Canada.

Project Homeless Connect began in Missouri four years ago, and in 2012 the Governor’s Committee to End Homelessness selected Cape Girardeau to bring Project Homeless Connect to Cape Girardeau County for the first time. The inaugural year was so successful the local planning committee decided to bring the project back again this year, according to Garner.