Lewiston Community Health: Kennedy Park Partnerships
Faculty: Karen Chan Zuckerman, RN, MSN
The city of Lewiston, Maine is in a period of transition. The Franco-American heritage, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and large factory mills speak to a rich past that continues to impact the city today. More recent additions to the city are seen on the main downtown thoroughfare of Lisbon Street: multiple Somali groceries, markets, and cafes. Kennedy Park is a public green space that is home to the farmer’s market in the summer. It is bordered by a police substation and skate park. Central Maine Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital serve as the regional hospitals.
USM Nursing students who select this partnership will be working in small groups at one of four partnership sites: Trinity Jubilee Center, Center for Wisdom’s Women, Blake Street Towers, and Meadowview Apartments. Each site has its own subculture and population:
- Trinity Jubilee Center is a drop-in, hang out for homeless, disenfranchised individuals and families who wait for the free lunch that is served daily. It also serves the refugee community as a food distribution center and advocacy center that helps those in need find services. In the afternoon, and on school holidays, the Center is also where students can receive tutoring by Bates College student volunteers.
- Center for Wisdom’s Women is a non-profit Women’s Center that offers community, support, counseling, and classes. Staffed mostly by volunteers, it serves disenfranchised women, many with a history of trauma, abuse, and/or chronic illness.
- Blake Street Towers is a residential multi-story apartment building that is run by Lewiston Housing Authority. The residents have demonstrated a need for subsidized housing. The population is split between two groups: the elderly and younger, disabled residents.
- Meadowview Apartments is a cluster of townhouse style buildings also run by Lewiston Housing Authority. The residents here are primarily elderly, many with an active lifestyle.
Students who choose to participate in the Lewiston Partnership are encouraged to voice a preference to work at a specific site, but are not guaranteed to work at the site. The needs of the site dictate where students are placed.
As students participate in community engagement via weekly blood pressure clinics; they develop trust and relationships with their clients. The clients look forward to seeing the students and seeking their attention and advice. Some just like to have a listening ear to share their stories.
As students assess the needs unique to their site, they may also offer medication education, diet and exercise support, smoking cessation information, stress management, and safety promotion. Health referrals are made as needed. Health fairs have been a successful draw at some sites.
The community partnership functions as a clinical experience in community health nursing. Students are expected to demonstrate consistency and ethical behavior to their course partners, instructor, and clients. Participation consists of weekly work at their sites, research outside of class, preparation and communication to set up events and scheduling, self-reflective journaling and resource sharing online at Blackboard. Classes meet as a whole in seminars that are held at the LAC campus, at the beginning and end of every semester and intermittently after bp clinics on certain weeks. Students may additionally choose to further engage with the community by volunteering at Lewiston health related events such as The Dempsey Challenge, The Great American Smoke Out, or dental screening clinics to name a few examples. Students also demonstrate community engagement by attending special event lectures that help them understand the complexities of the healthcare system, cultural issues, healthcare policy and its effects on our population, health literacy, etc. The partnership is constantly evolving as we look to deepen our ties within the community.
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