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"We travel all over Chester County, and we conduct health education programs and health screenings for the geriatric population. We go to where they congregate. We take our widesweeping Outreach program to them."

Neighborhood Health's Senior HealthLink has been bringing preventative health care into the homes of Chester County residents age 55 and older at no charge, while providing a community health experience for area nursing students since 1989. Senior HealthLink takes a three-pronged approach for the geriatric population: Outreach, Phone Line, and Home Visitation.

The Phone Line is a resource for people to call to get referrals to local agencies and services.

The Home Visitation program is for patients who are older, might be socially isolated, and may have multiple chronic illnesses to manage. Student nurses from six nursing partner schools rotate through Senior HealthLink for their clinical community requirement for their degree. "First they assess, then they teach and then they refer. Chester County has so many resources for seniors. The students let the patients know what is available to them," said Baldino.

The home-based program currently has 260 geriatric clients that the student nurses, who travel in pairs, visit about every five weeks for an ongoing individualized care plan.

"It's like an extra set of eyes and ears. The student nurses help them manage their health so they can age in place and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. Having someone with clinical knowledge visit with a smile on their face and talk with them about their health concerns lets our patients know they are not alone," said Baldino. "The ultimate goal of the program is to maintain older citizens' independence in their home. By having student nurses visit, more serious medical problems may be caught early or avoided."

Nursing Partner Schools:

  • West Chester University
  • Immaculata University
  • Widener University
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit
  • Delaware County Community College
  • Lincoln University

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