An ounce of prevention: Nurses give flu shots at homeless shelter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SALISBURY — A few cc’s of prevention may help save some disadvantaged locals from an emergency room visit this winter.
Wednesday night, for the second year, Rowan Regional Medical Center donated free flu shots to people at Rowan Helping Ministries’ overnight shelter in Salisbury.
Today, volunteers from Community Care Clinic will do the same for those served by Rowan Helping Ministries’ soup kitchen.
The vaccinations are for adults without any health coverage — no Medicare or Medicaid, no veterans benefits.
Kyna Foster, director of Rowan Helping Ministries, said those adults rarely get to see a doctor, unless they’re already sick.
When the uninsured do need medical care, they often go to the emergency room.
“We really want them to be protected,” said hospital President Dari Caldwell.
The flu can spread easily among people who live in close quarters, she said.
And Foster said it’s difficult for shelter guests to really rest comfortably when sick.
Rowan Helping Ministries keeps an eye out for guests’ health, she said.
During the intake process, those who receive services are asked about their health.
“We partner closely with Community Care Clinic … and the Good Shepherd Clinic,” Foster said.
One man who’s staying at the shelter said he was glad to get the flu shot.
David, who said he worked in the construction industry, told the Post he’s been staying at the shelter for seven months. He asked that his last name not be used.
“It feels good,” he said, “good health, good care.”
And, David said, the shot didn’t hurt a bit.
Wednesday’s flu shot clinic was also an opportunity for nurses to earn an additional benefit.
Karen Collins, a registered nurse who works in outpatient surgery, said participation in volunteer opportunities was a way to earn benefits on the hospital’s clinical ladder program.
That program is “a way to recognize RNs in their profession for going above and beyond their normal work duties,” Collins said.
In addition to volunteer work, Collins said, nurses can earn credit for serving on hospital committees, taking part in research projects and attending workshops, among other things.
Amber Hinson, a registered nurse who works at the Smith Heart and Vascular Center, said she’s only been at the hospital a year, but has already seen the importance of volunteer work.
She and Collins said they both attend Nazareth Community Church, in Rockwell.
And Collins said she volunteers at the shelter at other times.
“I just saw it as an opportunity to help out,” Hinson said.
“I feel like I’ve had a great life,” Collins said, “and it’s a rewarding experience. It helps me stay grounded.”

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.