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Augusta University College of Nursing students work with Steve Butler, who is enrolled in the Healthy Grandparents Program. A clinic was held for grandparents which provided health screenings and information. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

College of Nursing shines a light on grandparents’ health with clinic

Steve Butler has been part of the Healthy Grandparents Program offered through Augusta University’s College of Nursing for the past seven years and is grateful for the love and support he receives from them on a daily basis.

Butler, a retired veteran of the U.S. Army who is taking care of two grandchildren, participated in a health clinic held March 27-28 for grandparents enrolled in the program.

The clinic provided screenings for weight, blood pressure, body mechanics classes, HIV, cholesterol and diabetes. Doctor of Nursing Practice students also provided Medicare annual wellness exams, as well as shared community resource information.

“Sometimes they just don’t ever put themselves first. I told them, ‘We just want you. We want to focus on you and give you all the attention.’”

Mike Patton, Healthy Grandparents Program coordinator

The Healthy Grandparents Program was established at AU’s College of Nursing in 1999 to provide physical, emotional and social support to grandparents and great-grandparents raising their grandchildren living in parent-absent homes.

Pam Cromer, DNP, program director of the Healthy Grandparents Program and a professor in CON, said research shows grandparents will neglect their own needs to tend to everyone else’s. Events like the health clinic are designed to put them first so they’re in the best shape to take care of the children in their custody.

“We feel it’s extremely important for them to understand what resources are available to them to take advantage of it. We have brought in our community partners, one of them being a primary care site that offers transportation and other services that may be barriers for them,” Cromer said. “Getting information from those providers is extremely important for this population while it introduces our students to health care in general.”

Butler said he didn’t have any health concerns before his visit and attended as a show of support for the program and coordinator Mike Patton, who has been with the program since its inception.

“Mike has always been there to take care of us, and when an opportunity comes to be able to use something that he shared, and I know he’s a straight shooter, then I want to be there. As many times as he’s been there for us, I will be there for him,” Butler said.

Patton said the idea for the clinic was intended to put the spotlight on the grandparents and let them be the center of attention, at least for one day. He has worked with hundreds of families during his time at AU and knows each family’s story and knows that grandparents are always focused on everyone else but themselves.

“They make sure the kids have everything that they need, whether it’s school-related or health, but sometimes they just don’t ever put themselves first. When I was telling them about this event, I told them, ‘We just want you. We want to focus on you and give you all the attention.’ I’m glad we had a good turnout,” said Patton, who noted the grandparents spoke with a nutritionist, as well as the Augusta Lions Club, who performed vision and hearing screenings.

“We want them to think of themselves being the most important piece to this. They need to put themselves first sometimes; they are prioritized, they’re important and they appreciated it. I hope that’s coming across from them coming here today.”

Butler said he was met with encouraging words and plenty of information at every station he visited. He, in turn, was able to share how much he appreciated the students helping him and others like him.

“The Healthy Grandparents Program is an incredible gift to the community that the College of Nursing is proud to sponsor,” said Beth NeSmith, interim dean of the College of Nursing. “I can’t thank Pam and Mike enough for all the work they put into these events and their passion for the families of the Augusta area. Not only does the outreach clinic make a community impact, but it allows our DNP-FNP students to utilize their skills in preparation for their careers.”

Whitney Wilson, a senior DNP student with an emphasis in family nurse practitioner, has worked several Healthy Grandparents events in the past and each time has an appreciation for the experiences she has received as a student.

“We assess when their annual screenings are, we talk about their comprehensive medical, surgical and family history and talk about what they may be at risk for,” Wilson said. “Everything we do is intended to cover the overall person.

“Seeing the grandparents come in and for them to say, ‘Wow, I’m important, too.’ We hear them say that a lot of times, ‘I need to be healthy so that I can help my grandchildren and be here for them longer,’ which is true, but we also need them to be healthy for themselves.”

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Written by
Miguelangelo Hernandez

Miguelangelo Hernandez is a senior communications and media coordinator at Augusta University. You can reach him at mighernandez@augusta.edu or (706) 993-6411.

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man smiling Written by Miguelangelo Hernandez

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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