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ASCC Nursing Dept staging 4-day Health Fair

ASCC Nursing instructors Lele Ah Mu and Ann Longnecker (seated) and their students prepare for this coming week's Health Fair, which will take place at the EOB on Tuesday, April 24, followed by the Fagatogo Market on Wednesday, Laufou Shopping Center on Thursday, and the ASCC campus on Friday. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

The Nursing Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) invites the public to attend a four-day Health Fair event that begins at the EOB this coming Tuesday, April 24th, then moves to the Market Place on Wednesday, Laufou Shopping Center on Thursday, and the ASCC campus Friday. 

At each location, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nursing students will offer free readings for blood pressure and glucose levels, as well as a wealth of information on achieving and maintaining good health. Public Health nurses and staff from the CNR Nutrition Program will also participate in the Health Fair.

“This project is part of our clinical requirement for the course Introduction to Adult Health (NUR180), which covers Medical/Surgical, Mental Health, and Community Health”, Nursing Department chairperson Lele Ah Mu explained, “and community outreach projects like this promote an understanding of local, regional and world health issues for our students. We consider it important to provide them with the experience of communicating professionally with the public by performing basic nursing skills and sharing health teachings.” Data obtained during the four-day event will be reviewed to help plan future community health activities, and also submitted to Public Health to share with interested groups or individuals. 

Nursing major Jane Misaalefua offered a student’s perspective on the Health Fair. “We want to educate our people on ways that could help with healthy living”, she said.  “Here on our island, a lot of people have diabetes, hypertension, gouty arthritis, and other illnesses.  By attending the Health Fair, people can learn about different types of illnesses, the signs and symptoms, the treatments, and the preventions that can be applied.  The Health Fair will also provide services such as measuring blood pressure and checking sugar levels, and at the same time it’s an excellent learning experience for Nursing students.” 

The overall health of American Samoa’s population also concerns Nursing major Florence Turituri Asaeli.  “I’ve seen how our people continue to neglect their health”, said Asaeli, “and I strongly believe that many of their health issues are very preventable.  Preventing common diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension and Gout starts with essential health practices like exercising at least 30 minutes a day and watching our diets.  Personally, I believe we all face problems in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but if we can find ways to get those 30 minutes of exercise, and to include fruits and vegetables in our diet, then we’re on our way to living longer and healthier.”

In addition to fulfilling the basic ASCC graduation requirements, particularly in English, Math, and Science, Nursing majors study towards taking the national examinations required for certification as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), or Registered Nurses (RN). Often, personal experience motivates them to take this challenging route, as Sara Umi-Sagapolutele explained. “I decided on Nursing for various reasons”, she said. “First, my father is a dialysis patient and I want to assist in his care. I’ve been to the dialysis unit at the hospital and I feel very emotional about the patients, because I’ve met most of them and they’re the most pleasant and good hearted people. Another reason is that I have three kids of my own who will rely on me when they get sick.  Lastly, I want to help the people of American Samoa to be healthy and live longer. There is a shortage of nurses here, and we need more to care for our growing population”.

Following their week-long Health Fair activities, the ASCC Nursing Department will prepare for a trip to the Manu’a Islands scheduled for May 1st to 3rd. While transportation details are still being confirmed, Ah Mu said that her nine participating students look forward to this Manu’a visit, a collaboration with Public Health funded by the American Samoa Government. “Hopefully, we will provide an extension of the Health Fair to Ofu, Olosega, and Sili, Manu'a, if the weather allows”, she said, “to have students utilize their knowledge and skills working with the Manu’a community with limited supplies and equipment. I and my colleague Ann Longnecker will supervise the students along with a Public Health nurse to guide us through the villages.”

Additional information on the ASCC Nursing Department is available online at: http://www.amsamoa.edu/nursing.htm.



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