PN students volunteer at Shepherd's Touch
Giving back to the community is a vital part of being a nurse, and the practical nursing students at the Attala Center put this skill to good use by volunteering their time, skills and monetary donations with Shepherd's Touch, a free community clinic in Kosciusko.
The clinic was started by a group of volunteers from First Baptist Church in Kosciusko in July 2013. The goal of Shepherd's Touch is to provide medical care for those in the community who do not have health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare and also to meet spiritual needs by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The clinic is held on the second Monday of each month in the Son building, which is adjacent to First Baptist Church and across the street from Renasant Bank.
Registration starts at 5 p.m. and patients are seen in no particular order. The clinic is staffed by 35-40 volunteers. These volunteers include office workers, high school students, college students, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, optometrists, dentists and dental technicians. Volunteers also include laboratory techs, retirees, pastors, housewives and interpreters for our Spanish-speaking patients.
"A fundamental principle of nursing is to give back to the community and clients we serve," Practical Nursing Department Chair and Instructor Christi Blair said. "The Holmes PN program strives to instill this sense of community service in our students. This clinic has such a profound, positive effect on our community. The students wanted to donate $500 toward the purchase of equipment and to help with a meal for the clients.
"It's important for nurses to know what is going on in the communities they serve," she said. "Each PN class chooses an organization to donate money or equipment to. I am extremely proud of my PN students for choosing to donate this money to the clinic."
"The generous donation provided by the nursing students at Holmes Community College allowed us to purchase some additional glucose monitors and an automated blood pressure monitor which assesses blood pressure and heart rate in half the time of a manual check," Linda Cockroft of Shepherd's Touch said. "Their donation also provided 75 meals for the April clinic. We are grateful for their commitment to Shepherd's Touch.
"The nursing students from Holmes Community College provide much needed assistance at Shepherd's Touch," she said. "These students complete the patient's health history, update their medications list, document their drug allergies, list any pertinent family history and perform blood sugar testing if there is any history of diabetes. They provide these services in a timely manner, and always, with a smile and professional demeanor. These students know how to multi-task and can handle 50-60 patients in a very short amount of time. They are courteous and treat the patients with respect and compassion. They understand the importance of confidentiality and their dedication is unwavering. All of these students will be fine nurses one day and an asset to any institution. Quite frankly, Shepherd's Touch could not continue to operate without the services of these students!"
On average, 50-60 patients per month seek assistance through Shepherd's Touch. Medical care is provided on a walk-in basis and dental and optometry appointments are scheduled in advance. Optometry provides complete eye exams and seeks assistance through local civic groups and donations to purchase glasses for our patients. Our dentists provide dental extractions only. Diabetes education is provided by a nurse practitioner who encourages the patients to have a healthier lifestyle.
The meals served at Shepherd's Touch are donated through Sunday school classes, individuals, monetary donations and restaurants in the area with 75-80 meals being served each night of clinic.
Lab services are provided as ordered by the physicians and the results are available to the patients at the following month's clinic. The pharmacist fills the prescriptions on-site and provides a 90-day supply of medications.
Medications and laboratory tests are the biggest expense for the clinic. Initially, the clinic was funded through First Baptist Church through 2016. Wal-Mart also provided a community grant which enabled us to expand our dental services. In 2017, the clinic partnered with Baptist Health Systems and they have funded the clinic through 2018.
A short devotion is held each night of clinic and individual counseling is provided for those who seek it. Bibles are given to those who request them.
Cockroft said Shepherd's Touch is always in need of more volunteers.
"Assistance is needed in setting up the clinic equipment, filing lab reports, registration and moving patients to the lab and pharmacy," Cockroft said. "Our most pressing need now is a lab technician who can draw blood. We're always looking for volunteers to prepare and serve our meals and then in cleaning up afterwards. All of our equipment has to be taken down after clinic and stored until the next month."
For more information about Shepherd's Touch or to volunteer, contact Linda Cockroft at the Son Building on the second Monday night of each month beginning at 5 p.m.
For more information about the Attala Center Practical Nursing program, contact Christi Blair at firstname.lastname@example.org or (662) 472-9173.