TO THE POINT:
CAMDEN CITY, NJ— Rutgers University‒Camden health care clinics are a vital resource for Camden residents, especially during the pandemic, when some patients face even greater challenges to receive care from a health care provider.
The Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden is working to raise awareness of the services that are available to Camden residents at the university’s health care clinics located in the Housing Authority of Camden’s Ablett Village and the Branches at Centerville. After the pandemic lockdown began, the centers launched a telehealth service to make it more convenient and safer for patients to connect with a health care provider.
In the spring, it had been more than a year since Tracey Powell saw a doctor; she realized that she needed help, so she contacted the Rutgers–Camden nursing school for telehealth services. Due to some difficult life circumstances, including no longer having the use of a car, Powell could not make the trip to see her doctor in Voorhees.
Powell had a couple of major health issues, so the center’s staff wanted to examine her in person. Conveniently located about one block away from her Ablett Village home, she could walk to the health clinic.
“It’s the beginning of getting the help I need,” says Powell. “I’m glad there’s someone there to help me.” The nurse practitioners gave her a blood pressure cuff to monitor her blood pressure and a sugar meter to watch her diabetes.
“They are thorough and excellent,” says Powell, who serves as president of the Ablett Village residents association.
When the telehealth service began in the spring, the Rutgers–Camden staff hoped they would be able to help many patients who could talk to the health care staff by phone; however, few people are using the service, which also provides wellness services such as check-ups for sports participation and employment physicals.
“I know there are people who need health care now,” says Kathy Jackson, a clinical assistant professor, and a leader in Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden community engagement projects. “Some have multilayered issues, and may be hesitant to go to health care centers/offices at this time. We want to let people know that if they need health care, they can access it via telehealth and get help without coming into a health center.”
Rutgers–Camden created a collaboration between its School of Nursing and its world languages and cultures department that provides Spanish-speaking patients with interpreters – Rutgers‒Camden students and alumni who successfully completed the university’s community medical interpreter course.
A federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist veteran nursing students in primary care has supplied medical equipment such as automated blood pressure machines and glucometers, computers, and a secure platform for the telehealth service.
Jackson distributed information about the telehealth service to housing authority residents in the spring, and plans to redistribute flyers as a reminder that the telehealth and in-person services are available.
Housing Authority of Camden residents can make a telehealth or in-person appointment by calling 856-225-2983.