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VUSN students work Room In The Inn health event

Aug. 13, 2015, 10:02 AM

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) students helped more than 85 members of Nashville’s transient population during a recent Room In The Inn health event.

Room In The Inn is a network of more than 180 congregations in Middle Tennessee that offers emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help people who live on the streets of Nashville. During extreme weather months in winter and summer, the group also provides shelter.

Working with VUSN Assistant Professor Tom Cook, Ph.D., R.N., and Room In The Inn’s Quianna Jimerson, the Enhancement of Community and Population Health students developed a three-step program designed to empower this often-marginalized group.

“This is a high-risk population where many people have comorbidities and are much more likely to go to the emergency room for their primary health care,” said student Nathan Johnson, who spearheaded the event. “We wanted to develop some tools that would be of the greatest help in realistic situations and help put these members of our community in a position of power with their health.”

Specifically, the students conducted a brief health assessment on each participant and transferred key pieces of information such as chronic conditions, allergies and medications to a laminated health card to better communicate and limit adverse outcomes in case of a health emergency. Additionally, the students provided each participant with a wristband with the Room In The Inn main phone number, also in case of an emergency.

Finally, the students helped each participant fill out advanced directives that will be added to the Room In The Inn database and used in case of a situation that renders health event participants unable to convey their health care wishes.

The process sparked much-needed conversations about who to contact in an emergency, which can be a complicated issue for homeless individuals who may not have local family or friends to help with health care decisions.

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