ULM nursing students providing health check-ups for the homeless

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 12:13 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Northeast Louisiana is full of people who are always lending a helping hand. Students at ULM’s Kitty DeGree School of Nursing provide much-needed medical aid and mental health services to the homeless.

When someone is homeless, it’s hard to get healthcare. This is where the ULM Kitty DeGree School of Nursing steps in.

“It’s not fair for any human to have to go through what these people are going through for reasons that aren’t their fault because they can’t get what they need,” ULM nursing student Alisha Lirette said.

Alisha Lirette and other students visit homeless shelters like The Renewal Center and utilize the St. Francis mobile unit to work hands-on with people in need. They perform assessments, take vitals and discuss their medications and conditions to help them understand their health.

Associate professor Dr. Amy Miller says this helps the students become comfortable with doing assessments in the field.

“The individuals there, the homeless, they are very good at wanting you to talk to them about everything, preventive health, they’re wanting you to discuss some of their needs, that they can have access outside the community,” Miller said.

Associate professor Vonny Thornton thinks it’s important for students to understand the struggles so work can be done to advocate for the homeless.

“My students have the most wonderful heart and they show empathy to those people. Instead of feeling so alienated because of their illness or their situation, they have a deeper understanding that I am a person that’s worthwhile,” Thornton said.

Students believe the relationships built are beneficial.

“It just brightens their day to have somebody to talk to them and make them feel like a person. Even the littlest things you do these people are so grateful for because they have nothing, nothing at all,” Lirette said.

Lirette hopes the small things the nursing students do can make a big difference in the lives of the homeless.

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