Faculty: Marcia Goldenberg, MS, RN
The School of Nursing began a partnership with the Amistad community in Fall of 2011. Amistad is a community center in Portland for individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness with a focus on peer support and peer management. It is a safe place for its members to gather, socialize, participate in learning groups, and share a daily meal. Amistad members take an active role in staffing the center, running programs and serving on the board of directors. Amistad is committed to a recovery model of mental illness – that each individual can and deserves to live a full, productive life and to be treated with respect and dignity. It is a tenet of this model that having the support of others who also live with mental health issues is one of the most effective ways of achieving this goal. The staff and members are also active in advocating for changes in the mental health system. Although Amistad is not a treatment center, it is staffed by seasoned professionals; most identify as “peers”, having been consumers of mental health services themselves.
Work with outside agencies and programs is encouraged wherever possible. Students have invited speakers from the service community to attend seminar and discuss topics that range from how the police engage with mental health crises to what services are offered to homeless members of the community.
The staff and members of Amistad have a great appreciation for a student presence at the center. During partnership hours students are encouraged to offer basic nursing interventions (blood pressure monitoring, weight management support, guidance about nutrition, e.g.) as a service to members and as a way to develop relationships. Students are asked to develop individual or team projects based on member input and interest that provide an intervention on a weekly basis. Examples of student-led interventions are: relaxation group; discussion group; diabetic foot check and screening; walking group; nutrition education sessions; letter writing group; and routine blood pressure and blood glucose screening and general education about health maintenance. Each semester culminates with a health fair where students create posters and displays about various health topics.