Indiana University students perform community chronic illness care
Students in the School of Nursing partner with clinic to conduct chronic care home visits
CommunitySouthern Indiana Community Health Care, Paoli, IN
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeIndividual Project
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good Health and Well-Being
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
Community clinic introduces new chronic care measures
Like many rural US communities, the residents of Paoli, Indiana face healthcare barriers such as poverty, chronic disease, and a high patient-to-physician ratio (IU Video, 2:51). Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center located in Paoli which provides the underserved region with accessible care and support. The clinic recently implemented new management and staffing procedures in order to provide improved care for patients with chronic illnesses. Seeking to familiarize chronic care patients with home visits and improve its chronic illness management, SICHC reached out to the School of Nursing at Indiana University.
Students join the clinic on home visits to inform patients, provide care
Through the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program, Southern Indiana Community Health Care partnered with Dr. Greg Carter’s transitional health care course. Working with community partner Donna Charles of SICHC, student participants arranged to conduct home visits for patients with chronic illnesses and home safety concerns. Their objectives were to complete routine care procedures, identify any potential patient risk factors, and educate chronic care patients about the benefits of home visits on mental and physical health.
Improving chronic care through accountability and efficiency
Under SICHC’s guidance, Carter’s students completed multiple chronic care home visits throughout Orange County. Their efforts led to the discovery of risk factors which may have been impacting patient health, such as “poor diet, low housing quality, and isolation” (Report, Pg. 7). This project constituted an important step in rolling out SICHC’s new chronic care procedures to the community. Participants provided an essential service to local patients while gaining real world healthcare and nursing experience.
Patients suffering from chronic illnesses are a unique demographic at the clinic, as they require routine support and care. Together, students and healthcare providers intervened to better patients’ lives. Their collaborative efforts promise to improve community trust and patient health outcomes.
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