July may have been a sweltering month but it was also an enlightening one for nursing students Domenique Villani, Robert Coale, and Jacqueline Corbett. For their final practicum in community health just before earning their bachelor of science in nursing degree, the three students worked with the staff and temporary residents of Safe Harbor of Chester County in West Chester, Pa. Safe Harbor is an independent, nonprofit organization providing food, shelter, friendship, counseling and recovery opportunities to homeless men and women in the area. The shelter has space for 20 men and 20 women on separate floors.
During their visits, with the expertise of adjunct clinical faculty Terry Berkman, MSN, RN, the students assessed the needs of their clients and developed plans and educational tools based on their findings as well as research in community health literature.
“We wanted to create teaching plans that would most benefit the residents at Safe Harbor. Our first day we did blood pressure screenings, hydration status screenings, and we talked to the residents about what they would like to learn more about,” explains Jacqueline. She had no prior expectations as it was her first exposure to a homeless population; she found them “very eager to learn” about ways to stay healthy.