Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

4 Students Advocate Care for All; UNF Nursing Students Encourage Healthcare for a City's Homeless

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

4 Students Advocate Care for All; UNF Nursing Students Encourage Healthcare for a City's Homeless

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM AASEN

ST. AUGUSTINE - Robert Jones, a 44-year-old homeless man in St. Johns County, said he can't afford to get sick. He can't put the strain on his wallet and his life is already full of stress.

"It's so expensive nowadays," he said. "I'm between jobs and it's rough sleeping on the streets and trying to find a place to stay. I can't get sick on top of all of that."

He could go to the local Flagler Hospital to get free primary care, but like many of the homeless, he doesn't have a Florida identification card.

That's why four nursing students at the University of North Florida took it upon themselves to start a program at Flagler Hospital to help the homeless get the $10 ID cards free of charge. Because of their efforts, the hospital donated $1,500 to a prepaid fund at the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to purchase ID cards. The nursing students are helping sign up people at St. Francis House, a shelter in St. Augustine.

The students held a health fair at the shelter Saturday where people could get free flu shots, HIV tests and blood pressure checks. About 75 people showed up.

It marked the end of the students' clinical hours, so they also held a fundraising drive at the hospital and donated $1,000 to the shelter on Saturday.

The idea started when Linda Fitzpatrick, Angela Yevseyevich, Melissa Senior and Roslyn Roberts were working for their community health clinical hours to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. The students, all St. Johns County residents, were assigned to the homeless shelter, which serves about 200 meals a day and houses about 30 people, where they discovered health care was a major concern.

"The first day, we sat down with people on a picnic bench and asked them what they really needed," Fitzpatrick said. "They said they wanted to go to the hospital but they couldn't."

Turns out, many homeless were turned away from receiving preventive care because they didn't have ID cards, they said. …

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