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Health and Medicine

Free Clinic To Benefit From New ISU Nursing College Program

Community Health Care Clinic
The Community Health Care Clinic in Normal.

Illinois State University's Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) received a $2.8 million grant to fund a new project that will educate student nurses on preventative practice.

Community Health Care Clinic (CHCC) Executive Director Angie McLaughlin said the project will enhance what is going on at MCN and local clinical care, while providing a model for other communities and institutions to see nursing in a new way.

McLaughlin believes nursing students coming out of ISU will stand out among their colleagues from other programs. She said they will be "better prepared for a preventative model of care as opposed to hospital and sickness."

Preventative care is getting regular screenings for cancer, checking for a healthy diet and physical activity level, and getting medical tests done on a regular basis "so that your medical provider can identify any potential risks of chronic disease or other health issues and help you address them and reduce those risks moving forward."

"Our care coordinator is going to be tied in with those most complex patients to help them overcome their barriers."

The MCN program brings preventative practice to three levels of local health care providers: a free clinic, a federally qualified health center, and a county health department.

McLaughlin said in addition to expanding CHCC's clinical care, the project's local impact will serve as a model for other health services in the state.

"We're not only going to be a model for how to engage with the academics," McLaughlin said, "but we're also going to be how to provide preventative health care on a really smart scale in terms of efficiencies in Central Illinois."

CHCC will receive one student nurse from the new program to be a care coordinator. The role will support chronic disease patients and planning care for the "most complex" patients. These are patients "that have the most barriers to overcoming health care," McLaughlin said. Barriers include anything that prevents a person from being a healthy individual, such as diabetes and hypertension.

"Our care coordinator is going to be tied in with those most complex patients to help them overcome their barriers, help them lead a healthy lifestyle, and hopefully reduce their chronic disease indicators so that they are healthier and functioning in our community," McLaughlin said.

Overall, McLaughlin said, the care coordinator will constantly ask themselves, "What can we do to keep them healthy before they get sick and have an acute health crisis?"

"By having an embedded care coordinator that is funded through this position, we're going to be able to not only expand clinical capacity with our nurse practitioners, but provide more well-rounded, quality health care to those that we have here," McLaughlin said.

Chestnut Family Health Center and the McLean County Health Department are the two additional organizations participating in the project, which McLaughlin hopes will be up and running for the 2019 school year.

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