Dozens of students from Bellarmine University's respiratory therapy and nursing programs
spent Saturday helping children with asthma stay healthy so they can play sports and lead more productive lives.
They conducted screening tests, measured blood pressure and BMI, provided information to families and helped them navigate the various health stations at a Healthy Hoops
event, organized by Passport Health Plan at Louisville's Central High School.
Respiratory therapy students helped children and their parents understand the need for peak flow monitoring and using a spacer with their inhalers. Both of these interventions have been shown to help in the maintenance of their disease.
"These kids have respiratory problems -- most of them have asthma," said nursing student Sarah Russman. "This is a preventative screening to see how they're doing as far as their inhalers, their rescue drugs and their maintenance drugs. Service is super important in our education at Bellarmine because we want to do everything we can to support our community and the people in it, making sure that we're meeting the needs of the community."
Many of these students are taking a community and public health course this semester. In that course, 58 students are divided into eight groups for collaborations with community partners that include the Jewish Community Center, Louisville Urban League, Louisville Metro Health Department, MUSCL Senior Wellness Center, Dare to Care Kids Cafe, Atria Senior Living, Seeds to Oaks, LifeHouse, Hildegard House, Highland Community Ministries Adult Day Center and the West End School.
"This is a great experience for our students, who are surprised to see that nurses are in more places than the acute care settings," said Dr. Teena Darnell, an assistant professor of nursing in Bellarmine's Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences. "They play an important role in emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention. At these outreach events, they develop skills for having face-to-face conversations with the public, while learning how to advocate for someone who may not know how to do it for themselves."
Darnell said her students will have another opportunity to practice these skills on Sunday, September 30, during St. Stephen Martyr's 14th annual health and safety fair. The students will staff booths, provide education on health issues and offer tips to help attendees stay healthy or manage their illnesses.
"We mostly work in the hospital and with sick patients, but also it's really important for us to get out in the community to help prevent them from coming to the hospital," nursing major Lindsey Potts said during Saturday's Healthy Hoops event.