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Widener Community Nursing Clinic Celebrates Five Years of Providing Health Services for Underinsured and Uninsured

The Widener Community Nursing Clinic, led by the Widener University School of Nursing and housed at Cityteam, celebrated five years of providing health-related services to underinsured and uninsured individuals on January 30.

The clinic first opened its doors to Cityteam residents in 2011, then to the Chester community in January 2012.

The celebration included remarks from Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Widener University and Cityteam administrators, Widener nursing student volunteer Emilyanne Gear and a longtime patient of the clinic.

“Over the past five years, the partnership between the Widener Community Nursing Clinic and Cityteam has provided a sustainable, community relationship allowing us to better serve the city of Chester, while also educating and preparing our nursing students,” Ellen Boyda, director of the Widener Community Nursing Clinic, said. “With Chester being one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged communities, there is a great need to serve the population.”

Cityteam Director Kwinn Tucker shared her gratitude for the partnership with Widener University. “The clinic has given us a real and practical way to work together to help the community,” she said.

The chance to provide care for the uninsured is one of the reasons Emilyanne Gear, a junior nursing student from Pitman, N.J., started volunteering at the clinic. “I had a family friend who died of breast cancer and she didn’t have health insurance,” Gear said. “I learned a lot watching her go through that experience. The clinic provides me with an opportunity to give back, while not only learning technical skills, like taking vitals, but also the human aspect of how to care for patients.”

Gear is just one of the students at Widener that has benefited from the hands-on learning experience that the clinic provides. There are typically 10-20 student volunteers each semester.

In 2016, the Widener Community Nursing Clinic served 526 patients, 400 of whom were new to the clinic. Since its opening, volunteer nursing students, registered nurses and nurse practitioners have worked together to log more than 3,000 patient visits with the ultimate goal to help Chester residents diagnose and treat health issues as well as focus on preventative health measures.

“Widener University is committed to sustaining and growing this type of community engagement,” Dr. Stephen Wilhite, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said.

Currently open Monday and Thursday from 4-6:30 p.m., the clinic provides physical assessments, episodic medical care, and referrals to support groups, along with essential education programs. Such services are offered pro bono, by nurse practitioners and registered nurses, all who volunteer and most of whom are alumni, as well as Widener nursing student volunteers. Some other major efforts the volunteers have supported include building and planting raised garden beds, starting an exercise program and holding several smoking cessation classes.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.