Henry* didn’t see much need in seeing the nurse in our clinic. He had just arrived at the shelter the day before and had healthcare available through the Veteran Affairs Hospital if he needed it. But fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to go—as is customary with new guests.
While talking with the nurse, he started exhibiting the signs of a stroke and was immediately sent to the emergency room. After several days in the hospital, Henry recovered from the stroke and he is thankful for the quick thinking nurse who saved his life.
In the past 12 months, the nurses have had 267 visits in the clinic. Most of these visits are fairly routine, but there have been several occasions when serious health issues—like in Henry’s case—were identified. They check vital signs, assess wounds, monitor blood sugar, and give overall health assessments. They also make referrals when more advanced care is needed. In addition, they teach health education classes and help guests set wellness goals. “Offering encouragement and education for positive change is an important part of what we, as nurses, do,” said Carol McFadyen, RN.
The idea of having an on-site health clinic came about two years ago during a tour of a group of nursing students from Washington State University (WSU). Currently, we have twelve nurses who volunteer including recent graduates of WSU who need community service hours to complete their degrees. New graduate Ashley Nichols enjoyed her experience so much as a student, that she continued to volunteer after graduation. “I get a sense of peace when I’m able to offer a service to others in need. I enjoy caring for the guests and look forward to seeing them.”
For most of the men and women who are enrolled in our life-change programs, the weekly visits do more than just help them stay on track with their health goals. “I think the greatest benefit to our guests is the tender loving care and encouragement our nurses give them--it’s almost like having a weekly visit with mom,” said Jeannette Regalado, CAC Volunteer Coordinator.
The clinic is open every Thursday morning from 8:00 to 11:00 am., and again in the evening from 5:00 to 6:30 pm. No appointment is necessary and it is open to the public. Registered nurses and health educators interested in volunteering are welcome to apply. In addition, donations of medical supplies and over-the-counter medications are appreciated.
*Not his real name.