Six nursing students from the University of South Dakota graduated this past December after spending roughly 56 service hours at Mercy Housing’s Northern Heights property. Built in 1976, Northern Heights is a multifamily rental property in Rapid City, South Dakota with 96 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments.
Students spent time at Northern Heights to learn how income impacts health outcomes, while also providing the students with a hands-on role in educating the community. Residents spent time with the students who shared exercise tips for people experiencing diabetes, proper techniques for checking blood glucose levels, signs and symptoms of high and low blood glucose, and advice on healthy living habits.
Over the course of three months, students led resident engagement meetings where they discovered two barriers to good health, lack of transportation and proper clothing.
To address transportation needs, students hosted a bake sale on their school campus and used the proceeds to purchase 400 bus passes for Northern Heights residents. The bus passes are available to residents who participate in onsite programs, and they can use them for doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. Additionally, students designed a pamphlet to educate residents about healthy food choices wherever they shop.
The second barrier to health prompted a clothing drive both on the USD campus and Rapid City Regional Hospital. Residents had the opportunity to pick out shirts, dress clothes, shoes, winter coats, and new socks.
“Residents were so excited about their new wardrobes,” commented Shannon, a Northern Heights Resident Service Coordinator.
After the residents picked out new clothes and shoes, students provided a healthy foot/diabetic foot care workshop. Students were available to meet one-on-one with residents to examine their feet and give advice on good hygiene and tips for circulation. After their consultation, each resident received lotion and a mirror.
“Residents really enjoyed talking to the students and it allowed them to ask health questions in an environment where they felt comfortable. The nursing students found it to be a great benefit because they were able to offer hands-on teaching opportunities and to take on the role of educator to share what they have been learning in their studies,” continued Shannon.
Before completing their service time, students also provided some tips to help residents stay healthy during the cold and flu season, and offering manageable ways to keep their diabetes under control while celebrating the holidays.
Thank you and CONGRATULATIONS to the nursing graduates at USD!