College Community Volunteers at On-Campus Medical Shelter

Nursing student Lynn Cassino of Woodbridge chats with patient Margaret Oleyar. (Photo courtesy of Middlesex County College)

Nursing student Lynn Cassino of Woodbridge chats with patient Margaret Oleyar. (Photo courtesy of Middlesex County College)

EDISON — More than 70 volunteers from the Middlesex County College community helped patients staying in the College’s Physical Education Center after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The gym was used by Rapid Deployment Force 3, managed by the United States Department of Public Health Services with assistance from other agencies, including the County Health Department.

They were there to help New Jersey residents with medical needs who required shelter after the hurricane. College volunteers included students from Democracy House, the service-learning program; students from the radiography program; students and faculty from the nursing program; as well as other students and alumni. A number of clergy visited the patients and transported them back home as they were discharged.

The site had a total of 115 patients, with as many as 74 there at any one time.

Volunteers distributed meals and visited with the patients, trying to keep their spirits up. The student nurses also helped with showering and other activities of daily living, personal needs, and taking blood pressure. Some worked a full eight-hour shift.

Nancy Berger, director of the nursing program, said the week of volunteering provided a chance to help the community as well as for student nurses to be exposed to caring for people during a disaster.

“Our nursing program understands the necessity for community involvement,” she said. “When Hurricane Sandy hit, a number of students had asked about volunteering. This is a great opportunity because it allows them to see that nursing takes place in all environments. More and more, health care is happening in the community – not just hospitals or clinics. This was the chance for our students to see that trend happening and to participate in it. It was also an opportunity to give back to the community.”

Student nurse Raychelle Grooms said her service was fulfilling.

“This was an opportunity to help the community and also to learn more about the nursing field,” she said.

College President Joann La Perla-Morales thanked all the volunteers for their service.

“I hope you feel a sense of pride in your work,” she said. “You made a real difference in helping New Jersey recover from that terrible storm.”


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