Congratulations to Assistant Professor Linda Maldonado, PhD, RN who has been honored May 26 as an Al Dia Top Nurse in the Academic Practice category for her science and service in the community of Kensington. Al Dia is a news media organization focused on the Latino experience in the U.S.
Her nomination follows.
Dr. Maldonado is a nurse, educator, researcher, community activist and volunteer, servant leader, and sculptor of the next generation of nurses. Her nursing science focuses on intergenerational caregiving and health equity within urban childbearing Puerto Rican women. The inspiration for all her scholarship rests in intersectional issues of race, class, gender, and historic rights to health and equitable healthcare.
In 2016, Dr. Maldonado began studying pregnant Puerto Rican women living in Philadelphia. Interviews were conducted in participants’ homes to meet the women “where they are.” As a Puerto Rican woman with family living in the same neighborhood as these women, she was able to identify with and co-create a substantial level of trust with the community. She extended this work to focus groups which included dinner and conversation, as well as undergraduate nursing students from Villanova’s Fitzpatrick College of Nursing as focus group facilitators and note takers. She subsequently developed a critical understanding of the health and social consequences of the daily lives of urban, childbearing Puerto Rican women and constructed the Childbearing Puerto Rican Woman and Intergenerational Caregiving Model explaining the potential ecological stressors on their lives. In additional analysis, she describes the women’s extraordinary strength and tenacity in surviving within a broken urban setting often complicated by the social pressures of their culture and the effects on their own health. Through the power of storytelling and metaphor, she has a long-term goal of designing appropriate and novel interventions to contend with the various levels of trauma found in their stories and is in the initial stages of developing an intervention focused on not only the health of the women but the health of their community: a pilot in the Kensington neighborhood using photography to describe the day-to-day healing journeys of women who have survived trauma.
With Dr. Maldonado on this deep and broad journey serving the vulnerable women of Kensington is a team of dedicated undergraduate nursing students called Team Latina which is assisting with her research as well as community service work within the research community. Their mission is so compelling that alumni return to stand alongside the current students. A trusted partner, the group now has new experiences for service such as the student involvement with Prevention Point, Community Center at Visitation, and at an outreach center--the Thea Bowman center. As a result of Team Latina’s continued presence, the opportunity for community-based partnerships within their research is also growing. For example, the trauma intervention will be piloted with collaboration from the Community Center at Visitation, Thea Bowman Center, as well as Visitation Homes shelter for women and children. Through student word of mouth, the team now includes pre-med students concerned with health disparities. Dr. Maldonado is an excellent role model for the next generation of nurses and other health care providers who will be innovative problem-solvers in partnership with those they serve as they combat health inequities.
Dr. Maldonado and her student volunteers were trained in how to safely conduct needle clean ups in playgrounds to allow children a safer place to play and give mothers peace of mind. Similarly, she and her students underwent training in Narcan rescues for those in the area who succumb to opioid overdose. They travel to Kensington to engage with the women and their children, supporting them and highlighting their self-worth through events such as a “Love Yourself First” theme for Valentine’s Day. It is a true partnership, based on listening, where the local woman also share their talents and teach neighbors and Team Latina members skills such as knitting.
During the COVID 19 pandemic while most nursing undergraduate clinical rotations were transitioning to an online platform, Dr. Maldonado and Team Latina partnered with the Medical Mission Sisters in Kensington to re-open the Thea Bowman Center. Originally intended as a place of respite for homeless women, the center had been closed for a number of years due to lack of administrative leadership. She and the students, along with other Thea Bowman stakeholders, reopened the center in November 2020. On the second Saturday of each month following, they served homeless and housing insecure women a hot breakfast and hot lunch; provided an opportunity to talk in a safe and respectful environment; provided access to wash their clothes with the washer and dryer; take a warm shower; as well as the opportunity to obtain gently used clothing, especially socks. Since the reopening and careful listening to what the women told Team Latina what they needed and wanted, they are also now running the center with a full list of activities.
Dr. Maldonado is an inspiration - moving the needle, both literally and figuratively - for a neighborhood of families, of “sisters and brothers” to use her terms, as she diligently and collaboratively works for health equity.