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Wellness Center Helps Homeless, Poor

Efforts Of Church, College Assist City's Most Vulnerable

October 3, 2005
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer

What began as a conversation between the leaders of a local church and a college has evolved into an effort to improve the health of some of Hartford's most vulnerable people - the homeless, unemployed and the working poor.

Staffed by faculty practitioners and students from the nursing program at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, the newly opened "Wellness Center on Church Street" is housed in St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church's Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry at 285 Church St. in Hartford.

"It really is born of our mutual commitment in the areas of ministry where our missions overlap," said Evelyn C. Lynch, president of St. Joseph. "It gives our students the opportunity to work in an urban setting and gives the college the opportunity to extend into Hartford."

The center, more an information and education center than a clinic, is open Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. Patients can obtain health assessments, blood-pressure or blood-sugar checks and discuss medical concerns. Eventually, counseling and nutritional information will be offered.

Appointments and referrals are not required.

"The purpose is to do some assessment and some teaching," said Terry Bosworth, chairperson of the division of nursing at St. Joseph. "We are not intending to be a clinic where people get treatment. It's more for people to get the assessment."

The Rev. James Hynes, pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony, said the college's support will enhance the impact of his parish's people and programs. He also hopes to be able to connect with other community-based agencies that provide services to people in Hartford.

"The best way to do the kind of ministry that we do is to work together as partners," he said. "Sometimes, just to get clients to sit down and find out what they really do need is very difficult. Sometimes it's not just a referral that they need, it's giving them hope."

The students from St. Joseph have been involved in other community projects, said Bosworth, but the college has been looking for a way to reach out more effectively.

To publicize the health center, nursing students visited the House of Bread, an organization that provides food, shelter and services to the economically disadvantaged in Hartford.

They also hope to reach those served by the Franciscan Center programs such as the Sandwich Ministry, the Julie Education Center, which provides education and counseling to teenage mothers, and "Catherine's Place," a shelter program for homeless women.

"The folks that may be coming don't necessarily have open and constant access to the health care system," said Bosworth. "A lot of people may end up needing ongoing services and we see ourselves advocating for them and helping them getting those services."

For information on The Wellness Center on Church Street, call 860-756-4034.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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