Freeport-McMoRan Foundation funds Helping Seniors Stay Healthy program at Western New Mexico University helping to train the next generation of nurses.

June 12, 2017
Silver City Sun-News

Grant County seniors have lent a helping hand, or, in some cases, an arm and finger, to better train the next generation of nurses. The program, Helping Seniors Stay Healthy, has student nurses taking the vital signs of seniors, and in return, the seniors offer the future nurses a vital learning experience.

During the last year, Western New Mexico University (WNMU) School of Nursing students have trekked each month with their stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose machines to senior centers around Grant County.

Hawaiian native and WNMU Nursing student, Taimane Passi said, “We get to practice our bedside manner and communications skills while meeting different people. This gets us ready for next year when we start clinical training at the hospital, by then checking people’s vital signs will be a piece of cake.”

“Taking patient vital signs needs to be second nature to nursing students; it needs to be like a muscle memory,” said Krista Wood, RN, BSN, an Assistant Professor at WNMU School of Nursing. “With enough practice, students can recognize what’s abnormal right away.”

Over the course of the school year, nursing students have had plenty of time to build their experience with 40 visits to senior centers while conducting over 320 health screenings. As the students’ progress in their education, they have advanced from assessing general vital signs to offering more in-depth screenings like home safety and nutritional assessments.

Silver City Senior Center regular, Julia B. Biglin let the students practice their skills on her. Even though she exercises every day, she likes to check up on her blood pressure at Helping Seniors Stay Heathy.

“I’m an alumni and retired staff of WNMU," Biglin said. "This is a good experience for students and has them out of the classroom doing more with the community.”

WNMU Nursing student, Gordy Longville noted the difference between rural Grant County and his home in Tucson.

“People here have a good sense of community in comparison to cities like Tucson," he said. "The people we’ve worked with here know their medication and bring a notebook with their results from previous visits.”

Grant County Manager Charlene Webb said, “The Helping Seniors Stay Healthy benefits the nursing students with hands-on experience and our seniors with valuable health care service at no charge.”

HSSH Coordinator Chris DeBolt said, “This project has been successful in so many ways, not just for the healthcare provided for seniors and community nursing learned by students but in the relationships that have been formed between the two. It’s been just wonderful!” 

The program is funded by a grant from the Freeport McMoRan Foundation and supported by Grant County with the WNMU School of Nursing.

During the summer, Helping Seniors Stay Healthy is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at the Gila and Silver City Senior Centers, and on Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Santa Clara and Mimbres Senior Centers. The student nurses are scheduled to be at the Gila and Silver City Senior Centers on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, and the Santa Clara and Mimbres Senior Centers on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Health screenings should not be a substitute for a person’s annual physical exam conducted by a physician or health care provider. Health screenings can aid in general monitoring of wellness and catch the warning signs of more serious condition.

For more information on HSSH program call Chris DeBolt at (575) 956-3225.  

 

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