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Pennsylvania Polio Survivor’s Network recognizes Villanova Nursing for disability-related initiatives

In an April 1 release, the Pennsylvania Polio Survivor’s Network acknowledges three Villanovans for their work in support of people with disabilities.  The timing has special meaning for the group as April is Polio Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the designation is to draw attention to the estimated 1.1million Polio Survivors in the United States, recognize the disabling effects of Post-Polio Syndrome and to recognize the importance of being immunized against this disease.

The Network recognized:


·        Suzanne Smeltzer, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, professor and director of Center for Nursing Research who “started a program six years ago to incorporate standardized patients (SPs) with real disabilities into the graduate nursing program. Polio Survivors from the surrounding area began participating in this exciting and valuable teaching program,” states the release. 


·         Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, director of the Simulation and Learning Resource Center, who, as the release notes,  “three years ago, working with Dr. Smeltzer, expanded this program into the undergraduate level. Since that time, numerous polio survivors have participated on a regular basis... As a result of this team effort an untold number of students have discovered firsthand the truly devastating effects of a virus they thought only existed in history books.”

·         Dr. Stephen McWilliams, Director of Disability Services for Villanova University who met two polio survivors through the SP program and later created a DVD about polio that provides important care information to survivors and their caregivers.

The group says in its release, “The initiative taken by these three members of your faculty has been extraordinary in helping to communicate that polio survivors are still here and that it’s not over” and continues with, “The recognition and support of those with disabilities, whatever they may be, and the vision of these professionals to integrate the challenges of all who are disabled into their students’ daily lives, is outstanding. Villanova’s College of Nursing and the Department of Disability Services epitomize the leading edge in educating and preparing graduates to deal with real world issues and how to treat those who are suffering.”