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
"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.
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