Nurses in the Research Triangle and around the world are getting well-deserved attention for their frontline work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, little is being said about the work that nurses and nursing students are doing behind the scenes to assist the community in dealing with pandemic issues.

Such is the case of students who completed a public health clinical practice course at the UNC School of Nursing Mobile Health Clinic. Students at the clinic were recruited by a partner organization to help design and administer a survey to assess the needs of program participants at the Western Wake Crisis Ministry in Apex.

“We are teaching our students how to get involved behind the scenes and still make an impact when they are not assigned to working on the front lines,” explained Dr. Marianne Cockroft, associate professor in the UNC School of Nursing and the clinical director for the UNC School of Nursing Mobile Health Clinic.

The Western Wake Crisis Ministry, which serves members of the community undergoing crisis situations, was hoping to quickly obtain information on how COVID-19 was affecting the lives of its clients.

“We wanted to know how our clients are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. How we could support them. We wanted to hear from them, so we could assist them better,” said Beth Bordeaux, executive director for the organization.

Western Wake Crisis Ministry reached out to the Mobile Health Clinic and both decided the survey would be a perfect project for the nursing students. The students helped design the questionnaire and then called participants to learn about their COVID-19 circumstances: the food items they needed most, their access to prescription medication, their need for financial assistance and, of course, their health resource needs among many others.

“We identified several individuals with complex issues and provided each with a wealth of resources,” added Joseph Mauzy, RN-MSN student at the clinic who also works on a COVID-19 hospital unit in Cary. “We made free-consult appointments for the clients to speak with our nurse practitioner. Along with the Western Wake Crisis Ministry Social Worker and Support Volunteers, we provided resource and educational information  including ways to reduce stress, ways to include exercise, accessing prescription assistance programs, and other financial resources, including information on unemployment insurance and the pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer card.”

The Mobile Health Clinic, which is temporarily closed but conducting virtual consults, normally serves at two crisis ministries: Western Wake Crisis Ministry in Apex and Dorcas Ministries in Cary.

The clinic is offering free-virtual consults to Wake County residents who do not have a primary care provider. During the free consults, conducted by a board-certified nurse practitioner, patients are encouraged to share their health concerns and talk about any issues that they feel are affecting their physical or mental health. The nurse practitioner will make health care recommendations and will provide advice on steps to follow. Individuals interested in a free virtual consult, may contact the nurse practitioner at 984-212-8995.

Contact

For more information about the UNC Mobile Health Clinic, please contact Marianne Cockroft cockroft@email.unc.edu. For more information about the Western Wake Crisis Ministry, please contact Beth Bordeaux at 919-362-0657 or email execdir@www.wwcm.org.