Bethel College Nursing Students Conduct a South Bend Community Assessment

The senior RN-BSN completion students at Bethel College conducted a community health assessment of South Bend, Ind. The students are also registered nurses actively practicing in Indiana and Michigan and who have returned to college to complete their bachelor of science degree. The students, under the supervision of Bethel's associate professor of nursing Jane Eshleman, include Andrew Chikonka, Stephen Kiai, Toni Krakowski, Donna Martin, Fortunata Mashibe, Joan Miller, Peg Myers Terri Rushlow, Kelly Skirvin, Bonnie Stasiak and Renee Svorec. The 11 nursing students spent several months fact-finding, conducting personal surveys and talking with people in supermarkets, laundromats, restaurants, doctors' offices, schools and community centers. They interviewed city officials and pulled statistical data from the Census Bureau and from the national, state and county departments of health. The information was analyzed, strengths and weaknesses determined, primary needs identified, potential solutions suggested and an evaluation process stated. The goal of the project was to improve the health and wellness of the community. The experience provided the community decision-makers with significant data and analysis about the community's health related needs and potential solutions.  

The results and outcomes were presented at the Healthy Community Initiative office on April 29. The study revealed that South Bend has many strengths such as plentiful resources, multicultural activities, parks, churches, community involvement, transportation, mature city government and industrial growth. The areas that need to be addressed were minimal public education of available resources, costly cultural activities, lack of community health programs, abandoned buildings, poor road maintenance and lack of pedestrian arteries. After approximately 300 personal interviews and careful analysis, the number one community health problem was defined as access to care. Suggestions for potential interventions were mobile medical units, community
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education, increase Parish Nurse Programs, increase nurse practitioners, health incentive vouchers, flexible clinic hours, increase number of clinics, public service announcements, Transpo bus advertising, clinic transportation and health inserts in utility bills.

Bethel College is an accredited Christian college of the arts and sciences offering associates, bachelor's and master's degrees in more than 50 areas of study. The current enrollment of 1,964 includes students from 34 states, 17 countries, more than 20 denominational affiliations and 16 percent from culturally diverse backgrounds. Scholarships are available based upon a variety of factors including academic achievement, talent in the arts or athletics, ethnicity and church affiliation. Bethel offers classes at four satellite locations, as well as its Elkhart campus. The main Bethel campus is situated on 75 wooded acres in Mishawaka, Ind.