Written by Jennifer Hunter, MSN, RN
The purpose of the NKY Funders’ grants competition is to help nonprofits to be able to tell the story of their nonprofit: who they are, why they exist, what they do, how they do it, who they do it for, the outcomes that result and why those whom they are speaking to should support them financially or with their time and efforts. There were a number of community funders collaborating on this competition to provide the financial means to help the nonprofit projects. Seven different categorical funding streams were introduced with focus area criteria. Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky’s focus area: Health and Wellness, matched perfectly with the mission and goals of the Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved (NACU). In this category the project must address community health issues in an innovative way or who has proactively tried to create a healthy living environment for Northern Kentucky community members. My journey started in July 2019 with a project proposal with over 80 different agencies in the running. Semifinalist were then chosen to give a 3 minute “Pitch” to community judges on why your project deserved the funding. I thought I was disqualified because my pitch went over by 60 seconds but was surprised to get the email telling me that I was chosen to move forward. Fourteen finalist were chosen to give a final “pitch off” in front of over 300 community residents/agencies to obtain the prize at SETEC in Erlanger, KY on Tuesday, October 29th. At the final “pitch off,” I was chosen as the winner of the $7,500 grant to fund my project.
I submitted a project proposal for “Spotlight on Seniors” program to be implemented at Golden Towers in Covington, Kentucky. This program focuses on bringing healthcare to over 150 seniors living in the Covington Housing Authority resident facility. These seniors have complex medical needs, live at the poverty level and have no medical personnel on site to answer health related questions. They often do not have access to healthcare or healthcare coverage, are disabled in some manner and use the ER of St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Covington as their primary medical home. The Spotlight on Seniors program brings healthcare to them, where they live, instead of them having to go outside and navigate the healthcare system on their own. Nursing services will be provided every Wednesday from 3-6:00 pm by a retired volunteer RN who they can learn to trust and be cared for on a continual basis. Services such as health histories (risk assessment), blood pressure and glucose checks, height/weight/BMI, foot care, minor first aid, vaccinations and many other RN provided services will be offered. In addition to the one on one services, educational classes will be provided. Topics such as nutrition, carb counting, women’s health, smoking cessation to name a few. All of these services are provided without charge.
In addition to the provision of healthcare, this clinic will provide rich learning opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and faculty in the health related fields. This opportunity brings awareness to caring for vulnerable populations and a gain in appreciation of health disparities and inequities in our region.
I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support along the way and those that were in the audience the final night. It’s one thing to have a vision to help the underserved but the journey is much sweeter when you have colleagues that believe in you and what you are doing.
Close your eyes and picture this:
Your elderly Mother or Father is living in a senior citizen facility. They might be fighting depression, have Diabetes, or high blood pressure. No one is present in the facility to help your loved one with health-related questions. They find a way to go to the Emergency room for anything such as a stomachache, headache or just feeling “sad”. This is absurd and going on right now at Golden Towers in Covington.
Now open your eyes.
The answer to your prayers for your loved one is the Spotlight on Seniors. Spotlight on Seniors is a program that’s a unique collaboration between the Covington Housing Authority and NKU’s Nursing Advocacy Center for the Underserved (NACU). Golden Towers is part of the Covington Housing Authority where over 150 seniors (who meet the poverty level guidelines) live together in a resident facility. They are underserved, have complex medical needs, and have no one on site to help with medical issues. Our Spotlight on Seniors program brings nursing care right to the where the seniors live.
How it works is simple - but profound. Our team of compassionate, caring nurses volunteer their time weekly to provide medical services such as blood pressure checks, blood glucose checks, and other health screenings. No worrying about making an appointment, getting your loved one to and from a medical office because the medical office is right where they live. The passionate nurses create a welcoming environment with easy access for all.
In addition to their one on one visits, group educational classes can be held. Topics such as a low-salt diet or how to count your carbs will be provided. Group activities bring the seniors together, creates fellowship and fun in learning how to care for their health, and it is all free of charge.
As I come before you tonight I ask for your support and investment of funding for this project. The grant monies will purchase the necessary medical supplies and equipment that will allow the nurses to provide our Spotlight on Seniors services every week, not just a one-time visit. With your support of our Spotlight on Seniors program - senior care can be reimagined.
Now picture this…
You go to visit your Mother or Father, who has been participating in our Spotlight on Seniors program. They are happy to see you and want to show you their blood glucose machine, normal blood pressure readings and even talk about the good low-salt snack they learned how to make in nutrition class. Their overall spirit is hopeful, and they feel like someone is always there to support them in dealing with their health issues. They have gained a lifelong friend who is rooting for them.
In fact - we conducted our first focus groups and asked the seniors if they wanted the program at their site. Overwhelmingly they said “yes”. Even asking “Can you start today?”
Spotlight on Seniors Program - a ticket to better physical and emotional health. Please join me in making this a reality for the seniors at Golden Towers.