On October 13, 2012, close to 100 Duke University School of Nursing students served as escorts to the homeless population and provided needed medical assistance to members of the Durham community at the 5th Annual Project Homeless Connect. Held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a one day, one stop opportunity for underprivileged or homeless community members to receive services such as medical screenings, dental care, legal counseling, employment advice and opportunities, housing services, as well as hygiene services and a hot meal - all free of charge. PHC brings together a number of groups and organizations in the community for the common goal of eliminating poverty and homelessness in Durham. This year’s PHC event united hundreds of volunteers and served at least 455 members of the Durham community.
As a part of a community health nursing class, students in the Duke School of Nursing Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program spent the day providing PHC guests with medical services such as blood pressure and glucose screenings. Students also used the opportunity to talk with guests about methods of disease prevention and how to promote healthy lifestyle habits. In order to encourage and assist guests as they seek desired services, PHC pairs every guest with a volunteer or service provider to act as their guide and companion for the duration of the event. In addition to assisting guests with medical services, many ABSN students had the opportunity to partner with a guest and serve as their escort. In this role students were afforded the opportunity to connect on a personal level with a member of the community and to act as their advocate as they sought out needed services. As a result of PHC, not only did the ABSN students have the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom to promote health in the community through civic engagement, but it also dispelled the many misperceptions associated with homelessness.
By Faith Burns, Administrative Intern - OGACHI