During his final semester in our Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program this past fall, Viniquinn (Quinn) Terry ’20 completed his program’s service-learning project at the Holy Spirit Medical Outreach Clinic in the Allison Hill area in Harrisburg. The clinic, located in the basement of Christ Lutheran Church, is a nurse-run organization offering various health care services including blood pressure screenings and dietary modification education. The nurses also offer social services such as assisting clients with finding primary care providers; transportation, employment and citizenship resources; and help with applying for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC). In addition, the clinic staff helps find resources that provide housing and assist in rental payments. The clinic offers these services in English and Spanish to help broaden the support for people in the community.
When he was a child, Quinn lived with his family in the same neighborhood as the clinic and benefited from services it and the church provided. When it was time to choose a site for his service learning, Quinn intended to work with a food back or soup kitchen, but a chance lunchtime conversation changed his mind. When a co-worker mentioned a clinic where she volunteered, and Quinn realized she was speaking about Holy Spirit, he knew he needed to re-connect with the organization. When Quinn learned from the clinic’s director that hypertension and diabetes were prevalent within the largely African American and Latino community it serves, he chose to offer education about these diseases for his service-learning project. After reading about a possible correlation between oral care and heart disease, Quinn was also eager to offer information about proper oral care to the clinic’s community.
Reflecting on this experience, Quinn identifies many lessons he can apply to his career as a nurse. He notes: “As a nurse in the acute care setting, the most important lesson I learned was assisting with the patients’ needs after discharge. I now work very carefully with the case managers and social workers at my hospital to ensure discharge medications are covered by insurance and to schedule follow-up appointments. These were some of the issues the clients at the clinic faced.”
Quinn is also gratified by the “full circle” experience of giving back to a community and organization that had supported his family years earlier. He adds: “I found it rewarding how appreciative the clients were at the clinic for the simple services I would provide. One day a visually impaired woman needed help differentiating her pill bottles, but the bottles were all the same size and color. I simply helped her organize her medications into two weekly pill dispensers: one yellow for pills in the morning and one blue for pills at nights. She was overjoyed. Something I thought was insignificant turned out to be irreplaceable because she could take her medications without worrying about taking too much or too.”