Gannon University Nursing Students End the School Year by Giving Back To the Community

Posted: April 13, 2015

Student nurses from Gannon University's Villa Maria School of Nursing are ending the Spring 2015 Semester with a flurry of events.

On April 13, 18 student nurses in their senior year will conduct a health fair at the he John F. Kennedy Center, Inc., a private nonprofit social service agency at 2021 E. 20th St. The three-hour event, which will begin at 9 a.m., will be part of the national Million Hearts initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, and is being conducted in collaboration with LifeWorks Erie. The event will emphasize Million Hearts' "ABCS" concept: Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation. Gannon student nurses will provide free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, tests for total cholesterol and lipid levels and advice on increasing awareness of the "ABCS." The event is free and open to the public.

On April 16, 20 other student nurses will conduct a family health fair called "A Magical Day with Disney" from 4-7 p.m. at the John E. Horan Community Center, 730 Tacoma Road. Designed to appeal to children and their families, the event will feature games, activities, such as "Be Strong Like Hercules" and "Bon Appetit," and prizes, all aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The event is an outreach effort of the Gannon University Nursing Center at the John E. Horan Garden Apartments, a joint effort of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie and the Villa Maria School of Nursing. The center, established through a grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust and supported by an annual grant from the authority, is now in its 15th year of service. The center's goals are to improve access to health education, screenings, and preventive services for the residents of the Horan Apartments while providing an opportunity for Gannon student nurses to gain community-based clinical experience.

So far this year, the center has provided more than 700 direct services and more than 500 referrals to other health and human service agencies. The services include on-site immunizations, health screenings, mammograms, health and nutrition education, home visits or on-site WIC (Women Infants and Children Supplemental Food Program) services. According to its coordinator, Gannon Assistant Professor of Nursing Kimberly R. Blount MSN, CRNP, CS, the nursing center is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. All services are provided free of charge.

The events end a busy year for the School of Nursing, which in December celebrated the first graduates of Gannon University's new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

The program began in 2013 as a response to the changing role of nurses in the dynamic healthcare sector of the economy. Open to advanced-practice registered nurses who hold a Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN) and are certified in their specialty, the DNP program is an important step in helping nurses more effectively influence patient safety and develop best practices for hospitals and other clinical settings.

Also in December, the Villa Maria School of Nursing was granted accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The 10-year accreditation is the maximum time period for which accreditation is granted.