INA – Associate Degree Nursing students presented a wide array of informative and helpful topics at their recent health fair in the Student Center at Rend Lake College. Allied Health Division Chair Kelli Lewis explained it was a class project with two-fold results benefitting her students and those on campus who stopped by to see what all the excitement was about.
“The ADN students are doing this as a part of their second semester in the Associate Degree Nursing program,” Lewis said. “This is tied to community health nursing where they are trying to bring health information to the public.”
Mission accomplished. Topics ranged from healthy teeth to the importance of smiling, and hypertension to halting the smoking habit. Students either paired up or took the project on as a trio or foursome.
Lynn McDaniel and Charity Duran of McLeansboro, Gabby Young of Mt. Vernon, and Andrea Williams of Carterville drew from McDaniel’s skills as a dental hygienist for Dr. Haeuber in McLeansboro and Dr. Labewi in Benton to create their Dental Care booth and come up with some great giveaways like toothbrushes, toys and more.
“There are a lot of college kids who have children,” McDaniel said of the booth’s relevance to its target audience. “There are a lot of issues with babies. Putting babies to bed with a bottle can cause tooth decay. Soda is another thing. There are kids who come to the dentist’s office who are about four or five years old and all their teeth are rotten because they have been sitting around sipping on soda all day long. Soda is about the worst thing for your teeth, especially putting soda in a baby bottle.”
The booth included information about when parents can expect to see their eruption dates for when permanent teeth come in, best brushing and flossing practices and how to prevent tooth decay. One might ask, what does this have to do with nursing? Young had the answer.
“In nursing today, we don’t just look at what is your problem with your eyes or what is the problem with your heart, we do holistic care so we want your teeth, your spirit, your emotion ... we want you to be happy. We want holistic care.”
“They have found now that a lot of things with your teeth are related to your cardiovascular health. It’s all related,” McDaniel added.
Mary Seagle of Royalton, Chrystal Mills of Zeigler, Brittany Pierce of Carterville and Joleen Sullivan of Benton chose stress coping strategies.
“We chose this since there are a lot of students who experience stress,” Seagle explained. “We have some displays of different ways to deal with stress, books with insightful techniques, books on relaxation, a stress quiz and some side effect information.”
Mills pointed out that stress is hard on the immune system, among other things.
“There are long-term and short-term effects of stress that affect your health,” she said. “We think that if we start now, we can prevent the cardiovascular disease and maybe any type of mental disturbances later on that can result from overwhelming stress.”
Casie Wright of Murphysboro and Toni Luster of Benton used their jobs to help build an extremely informative booth on sexually-transmitted disease with an extensive focus on the human papillomavirus virus, or HPV. Wright works for a gynecologist and Luster works at a health department.
The booth included mp3 players with audio information about HPV and the vaccine Gardasil, male and female condoms, and an abundant supply of STD pamphlets.
“All STDs are a big issue, but we focused more on HPV because it affects such a huge percentage of people and is a big problem,” Wright said.
“It’s the biggest concern right now,” Luster added.
Devin Rudolph’s booth was on “Meningitis and the College-Aged Student.”
“We are hoping to tell people about what it is, how it attacks the brain and spinal fluid and how it is spread like any other germ through contact, sneezing, touching a table and eating without washing your hands,” the Herrin resident explained. “It can be fatal and it is very dangerous. If you get it while you are in school, it can wipe out an entire semester or, for athletes, you will pretty much be out.”
She explained the symptoms are flu-like and a spinal tap is required to diagnose the disease.
“There is a vaccine you can get. It is recommended those 11 to 55 get a vaccine.”
Amy Wilson of Centralia didn’t have to look far to find the inspiration behind her booth. The former smoker focused on the benefits of nipping this nasty habit – and the number one most-preventable cause of death – at the “butt.” She quit cold turkey a year ago after smoking for more than 15 years.
“You feel better, honestly,” she said. “After 20 minutes your blood pressure decreases, after two weeks you can walk easier and functions are easier.”
Her booth included information about a quit line, data about the many health risks associated with smoking, and tips on how to quit like chewing gum, joining a gym and using a buddy system. Wilson handed out free Blow Pops to those who stopped by her booth.
“A lot of people feel like they have to smoke in the car,” she said. “I would suck on a sucker.”
Other great attractions were the booth on diabetes by students Stacey Rockett of Dahlgren and Lucas Holmes of Dix; a lesson on hypertension with free blood pressure screenings from Paul Wilcut of Marion, Erika Frick and Christina Etherton of Murphsyboro; and a very positive booth by Angela Boswell of Carbondale and Patricia Mitbo of DeSoto.
“A positive attitude. It is the starting off point to good health,” Boswell said. “We’ve all heard ‘happiness is the key to healthiness.’”
Boswell and Mitbo challenged visitors to take a fortune cookie, open it, read their fortune, and tape it to a card with their contact information on back. Those who didn’t like their fortune had the opportunity to write their own on the card. The card was tied to the limb of a small tree and they pulled a random card off at the end of the fair to see who won a raffle prize.