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June 5, 2000

ACADEMIC-COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP TO MEET NEEDS OF AREA UNDERSERVED

LA CROSSE, Wis.—A new venture among three La Crosse organizations means improved wellness efforts for the medically underserved in the community.

The Viterbo College School of Nursing, the La Crosse County Health Department, and The Salvation Army have joined together to form "CARING, Inc: A Partnership for Public Health Practice."

Short for "Caring, Assessment, Resources, and Intervention through Nursing Guidance," CARING, Inc. is designed to serve the community’s health and enhance student learning. Students and faculty from Viterbo College will work with the La Crosse County Health Department to provide services such as blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, vision and hearing screenings, flu shots, and health education to those in need. The program’s goals are to:

  • Provide access to health promotion, health screenings, and health education services through establishment of a Health Resource Center at The Salvation Army.
  • Strengthen the nursing curriculum by providing nursing students an opportunity with a significant public health nursing experience meeting the health needs of a medically underserved population.
  • Establish an ongoing academic-community partnership with potential for expansion to include students in other health professions and disciplines.

"The project will serve as a model of collaborative care in which Viterbo undergraduate nursing students will participate as care providers and health educators and in which Viterbo graduate nursing students will partner with the community in planning and evaluation," said Silvana Richardson, dean of the Viterbo College School of Nursing.

Doug Mormann, director of the La Crosse County Health Department agreed. "It will enable our department, working with Viterbo nursing students and faculty, to provide needed public health nursing services to the homeless in La Crosse," he said.

This innovative partnership has already received more than $9,500 in funding from the Southwest Wisconsin Area Education Center (AHEC) System’s Model Program Grant under the Division of Medicine, Bureau of Health Professions Program.

"This [project] exemplifies a forward-thinking program with the use of important grant funds. It embodies more than its whole ? more than we could accomplish individually in meeting health needs of a vulnerable population," said Bob Monk, director of development and community relations with The Salvation Army.

With funding achieved, the next step in development of CARING, Inc. is formation of a Community Action Council to identify needs and oversee the program’s development.  Stephanie Genz, RN, MSN, a Viterbo nursing faculty member, will serve as the Project Director for CARING, Inc. In addition, Julie Frank, a Viterbo master’s in nursing student, will conduct a community needs assessment this summer and then develop program planning based on those needs. Implementation is expected in September.

For more information on CARING, Inc., contact Stephanie Genz, project director, at 608-796-3693 or email her at srgenz@viterbo.edu.

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