“Working in the Heartside neighborhood sheds new light on what it means to be image bearers of Christ"                         -Lauren Schuitema

Heartside is our newest neighborhood partnership, begun in 2011.

Heartside neighborhood has been “home’ to the homeless for many years. Many Heartside residents live in shelters or subsidized housing. The neighborhood has no single-family dwellings. Apartment buildings, hotels, commercial buildings, churches, missions and other providers of services to the homeless are prevalent in the neighborhood. Nearly 75 percent of the Heartside population is single males between the ages of 35-64, and most usually have limited resources.

The nursing department is currently conducting a neighborhood survey/assessment which will be used to set goals and identify projects which we will undertake to improve the health of the neighborhood.

There are two missions in the neighborhood, Guiding Light Mission and Mel Trotter Ministries. Our work in the Heartside Neighborhood provides health screening, health education, flu immunizations, answers to people with questions about their health and health-promotion activities to individuals.

In the first clinical course of their junior year, students learn skills such as therapeutic communication, client assessment including taking blood pressures, and nursing care planning. In each neighborhood students in the first semester are paired with both an adult and child client to assess the client and provide health education.

Students also provide group education for a classroom at a partner school and a neighborhood adult group. They “shadow” nurses in community settings such as a clinic or school to begin to understand the roles of a nurse.

While working in Heartside, students learn to listen to the voice of the client and the voice of the neighborhood. They learn to see how the environment affects the client’s health. Students focus on educating and advocating.

Students have a variety of opportunities to work in the neighborhood. One of them, the Heartside Drop-in Depot focuses on connecting people with the resources they need, such as:

  • contact with primary care providers
  • information on how to understand medications
  • what things have a detrimental effect on their health
  • basic health programs, like a fitness walking program

Since the primary mode of transportation in Heartside is walking, once a month LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church provides a place to meet clients in a relaxed setting and do a foot spa.

“Working in the Heartside neighborhood sheds new light on what it means to be image bearers of Christ," says Lauren Schuitema, the nursing faculty member who works in Heartside. As students interact with people different than themselves they are able to gain confidence in their conversation skills, and barriers between nurses and patients come down.