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Academics / Departments & Programs / Nursing / Student Experience / Community Nursing / Heartside

“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 have limited resources.

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

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, and answers to individual people about their health and health-promotion activities.

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

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

While working in Heartside, students learn to listen to the client and 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 walking is the primary mode of transportation in Heartside, 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.

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