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December 11, 2009

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Creating Solutions: UT Tyler Collaborates with Nonprofits to Assist Area Population in Need

Guthrie and Mahoney discuss medications at the clinic.

Above: Guthrie (left) and Mahoney discuss medications. Below: Mahoney, Katherine Stroudt, UT Tyler community health nurse instructor/faculty; Courville and Guthrie visit with a client while David Bruyere, a volunteer registered nurse from Longview, tends to him. Through a partnership with the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Ministries and Refuge International, students gain real-world experience by working with patients at a health clinic established at the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Men’s Center in Longview.

Nursing students from The University of Texas at Tyler aid an East Texas population in need, Dr. Linda Klotz, College of Nursing and Health Sciences dean, announced.

Through a partnership with the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Ministries and Refuge International, students gain real-world experience by working with patients at a health clinic established at the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Men’s Center in Longview. The center provides food, shelter and Christian Gospel services to homeless men in East Texas.

Katheryn Courville, UT Tyler clinical instructor; Deborah Bell, Refuge International founder and UT Tyler clinical instructor; and Dr. Debbie Mahoney, UT Tyler associate professor of clinical nursing, all volunteer at the clinic and serve on Refuge International’s board of directors.

“Having worked as an emergency room nurse, I have seen people with no access to health care arrive in conditions that are outrageous for you and me, simply because they cannot get medications for blood pressure or diabetes,” Courville said. “These are good people who are down on their luck, and have to choose how to spend their precious dollars - which usually means that medications to treat chronic illnesses are pushed to the back burner.

“If the clinic can take away the burden of health care expenses, then perhaps they can concentrate on pulling together their lives,” she added.

Courville said the idea for the clinic came five years ago from Dr. Brian King, an ER physician in Longview, “because of his overflowing love for all humanity – regardless of social status.”

Volunteers tend to a client.

“As part of Refuge International, we recently agreed with Hiway 80 Rescue Mission to help staff and manage their clinic,” she said. “It all came together beautifully – Refuge needed that local challenge. Being faculty, Debbie, Deborah and I knew UT Tyler needed a place to send their students and Hiway 80 needed someone to help manage the clinic.”

UT Tyler already holds an established partnership with Refuge International, which provides health care, nutritional and educational programs to improve lives abroad. Efforts include sending medical teams to Guatemala and Kenya on a regular basis.

Nicholas Jameson of Tatum, a senior nursing student at the UT Tyler Longview University Center, currently is part of a two-student team that assists patients at the center’s clinic as part of the required clinical hours for the university’s community health nursing course this semester.

“This has been an eye-opening experience,” said Jameson, who will graduate this December. “As the U.S. economy has taken a downturn during the last few years, the number of homeless is on the uprise, and the need for volunteers to assist these individuals is even greater. I am proud to have been a part of the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission.”

The clinic is open 3 – 6 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. On an average day, volunteers and students see about 30 patients.

“We treat chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes and also acute complaints such as cough and colds,” said UT Tyler nursing graduate student Lori Guthrie of Gilmer, another student-worker at the clinic.

“Many of the persons who are housed at the mission also have psychiatric related diagnoses that we monitor and adjust medications for.  We also have many volunteers with no medical background who come to organize, file or help in any capacity they can,” added Guthrie, who will graduate from the college’s family nurse practitioner program in August 2010.

“By partnering with UT Tyler and Refuge International, we have been able to provide needed health care for those in our own local community making East Texas a healthier community. Working at the clinic has been a wonderful experience,” Guthrie said.

Aside from the students’ and Refuge International’s assistance, many local nurses and physicians from the Good Shepherd Medical Center – Longview’s emergency department also dependably volunteer at the clinic, Courville said. 

Established in 1955, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission last year provided nearly 118,000 meals and 30,000 nights of lodging to the homeless population in Longview and surrounding areas. The organization not only provides emergency shelter for men, but also to women and their children through its Hope Haven Home.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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