Villanova, PA, April 21, 2010 — Mayor Carolyn Comitta of the Borough of West Chester, Pa. and Borough Council Vice President Chuck Christie attended the April 20th community assessment presentation of a group of senior nursing students from Villanova University College of Nursing who analyzed health-related issues in the borough. The mayor and her office have been interested in the students’ work in collaboration with Dr. Marcia Costello, assistant professor, as they are focusing on alcohol issues in people age 18-24 as their primary health problem which borough officials have also identified as a major target issue.
Students presented solutions to the issue including education for high school students about the hazards of alcohol, education for bartenders and wait staff on the signs and symptoms of impairment which included ideas on financing the program, and a safe rides program for local university students and community members. They encouraged collaboration among residents, police and the borough council and targeted crime statistics and community satisfaction levels to measure outcomes of the interventions.
This project is a course requirement for the Nursing in Community Health and Health Promotion senior course. The students within the context of their clinical group and clinical assignment conduct an in-depth assessment of their clinically based community. The students work closely with their clinical instructors, project advisors and University research librarians to collect, analyze and present recommendations related to the primary health issues of their community and evidence based literature. Students utilize epidemiological data from the U.S. government and international organizations to assess and analyze disease trends, environmental health issues, social determinants and other factors that impact the quality of life and health within a community. The capstone of the project is the oral presentation in class to faculty, students and members of the community.
Student leader Amanda Pucci recalls how they connected with the mayor who took office in January of this year. “Keri Nagel, Steph Bilotta, Meghan Fluck, and I attended the West Chester Borough Public Safety Committee meeting on March 9th, 2010. Mayor Comitta introduced herself to us before the meeting and was so excited to have us at the meeting. We explained our community assessment project and discussed some of the topics from the meeting, specifically the alcohol related issues the Borough faces.” The Mayor gave the students her copy of the West Chester Borough Task Force book on their studies of the alcohol issues in the community and connected the students for an interview with the chief of police. Pucci and Nagel later interviewed Mayor Comitta about alcohol in the community as well as the community’s strengths and challenges. “She has been such an amazing support for our group and wants to present our findings to the council members as well,” explains Pucci.