On November 30, 2011, New York University’s College of Nursing (NYUCN) partnered with NYU’s College of Dentistry (NYUCD) to host a health fair at the Grand Street Settlement, a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC), in Lower Manhattan. This “Health Fair for Healthy Aging” kicked off NYUCN’s Elder Care Program (ECP), a $1.2M grant awarded to NYUCN by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant allows NYUCN to provide primary care services and other health related services to over 4,000 seniors in Lower Manhattan over the next three years.
With the arrival of nurse practitioner interns, dental students, their respective faculty members and other staff, the Grant Street Settlement’s multi-purpose room was transformed into a health fair, with a dozen stations containing health information and offering services including diabetes testing, blood pressure screening, a BMI screening, dental hygiene education, and dental screening. Workshops discussed what to bring to the primary care nurse practitioner visit, and offered tips on tooth and denture care . NYU health professionals and students served 130 seniors throughout the morning.
During the fair, nurse practitioner interns were paired with dental students for the services offered, providing important interprofessional care for the seniors and offering students an appreciation of what each discipline provides for the overall health of a patient.
“Interprofessional care allows nurse practitioner interns and dental students to appreciate both the overlap and the uniqueness of their roles,” said The Elder Care Program project director and Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Leslie-Faith Morritt Taub. “The Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Interprofessional Organization on Oral Health, among others, recognize the need to enhance the role of primary care clinicians in the promotion of oral health for all. When we looked around, everyone from the nurse practitioner and dental teams were pitching in. I don't recall being prouder of the students,” Dr. Taub remarked.
Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who represents part of the Lower East Side, attended the event, greeted the seniors and Grand Street staff, and even had his blood pressure checked by NP intern Abby Yenkinson.
"It's always great when local agencies and institutions are willing to come out into the community and address an identified need,” said Assemblyman Kavanagh. “Thanks to the NYU College of Nursing and their partnership with the College of Dentistry, over 4,000 Lower East Side seniors will receive services that are vital for their health and wellbeing."
The benefits of the day were shared not only by those who received the care, but by the student participants as well.
“I am so grateful…to be part of this health fair,” said Arlene Donnatin, a nurse practitioner intern at NYUCN. “I feel like we all made a difference in the lives of this particular community…[of older adults].”
This community is made up of a unique blend of elders from different ethnic backgrounds. Many of the students volunteered to do so because of their ability to speak Mandarin, Cantonese, or Spanish.
Mei-Guey Jan, MSW, director of senior services at the Grad Street Settlement, noted that the seniors found the NYU students to be, “very informative, helpful, and friendly… We know that [they] are grateful for the assistance, information, screening, and recommendations provided.”
More about NYUCN’s Elder Care Program:
The ECP will open up four sites servicing over 4,000 seniors: the first of them is in the Baruch Houses, a Lower Manhattan NORC.
All NORC residents and senior center participants are 65 years and older. The ECP will include the accessible provision of primary care services and care coordination on-site, including an Older Adult House Calls Program, a Diabetes Self-Management Education/Training Program, an Oral Health/Dental Screening and Referral Program, and outreach and linkages to community resources for vulnerable and underserved older adults, with a special emphasis on increasing access to primary care. The ECP will also provide service learning opportunities to undergraduate and graduate nursing students and dental students.