On Tuesday, the student nurses went to the lower 9th ward to educate residents about a local health clinic. We connected residents to vital community resources and screened for high blood pressure and diabetes. Our job is complicated by the fear and disorganization of the neighborhood. People refused to open their doors. They live in gutted out homes. Most are the only ones to inhabit a home out of a whole block of homes.
Billy owns the only two story house on the block, a camelback shotgun house. When the hurricane came, Billy and his father stayed behind. As the water from the broken levy rose over the first story of this house, up to the balcony of the second story, Billy and his father helped neighbors climb on to their balcony. One neighbor floated using an electrical wire to keep from being swept away with the current. For days, Bill and his neighbors waited for help.
Two and a half years later, Billy and his father are rebuilding his home. Despite flood and mold damage, Billy wants to rebuild his life. To him, the house reminds him of survival and gives him hope for the revival of his neighborhood.
Other changes are rapid. Yesterday, a student nurse met Randolph who has high blood pressure. After discussing ways to lower his blood pressure, he mentioned that he did not take his medication for the day. On a follow up visit, the same student nurse reassessed Randolph’s blood pressure. He told the student that he had taken his blood pressured medication that day. Through visitation and reminding people that self care even in the midst of devastation and struggle is critical, the student nurses realized that at the end of the day our work in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) gives hope to those still in the lower 9th ward by letting htem know they are not alone — they are not forgotten.
When we return to Illinois Wesleyan we will bring with us this important understanding and this critical knowledge: that an active community is one of the best health resources available.
— The Eastern Brown Pelicans