Francis sat contently in her chair, nibbling on a cookie and quietly enjoying the foot care exam she received from two WSU College of Nursing students. At 91, she’s nearly blind yet she manages to live independently, by her own choice. Francis was one of the many seniors living with a disability who received important, routine health care from an interprofessional team of students representing WSU’s College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, and massage students from Carrington College.

As part of the WSU College of Nursing’s Community Health clinical in Spokane, a class of BSN students organized a health fair for individuals served by the local Lilac Services for the Blind. Blood pressure, blood sugar, vision and hearing screening, hand and foot care, and massage were provided at the free event.

“From the initial planning to the execution of the health fair, nursing students learned how to organize and promote a community event, partner with students from other disciplines, and engage local businesses to help support the event,” said WSU College of Nursing instructor, Laura Wintersteen-Arleth. “It benefits an underserved population, and students learn how other disciplines can provide meaningful care for these patients.”

The health fair brought in a mix of individuals living with sight, hearing, and/or speech impairment. Students made educational displays that outlined health risks, disease facts, and healthy-living tips and shared the information with visitors. Attendees relaxed with massages and paraffin hand dips, learned about falls risk, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer screening, and had their medications reviewed by pharmacy students.

One of the nursing students, Melissa Tufto, gained a new appreciation for working with this population.

“Not only are we providing critical services, we are learning how to communicate and educate a population with special needs. Because of this fair, I have become aware of community resources and helpful tools that can improve the quality of life for a person living with visual impairment,” said Tufto.

Wintersteen-Arleth has been assigning a clinical public health fair at the Lilac Service for the Blind for a few years.

“This health fair benefits our students and the community. Many attendees are low-income and have little or no health insurance, and events like this help supplement their lack of access to routine health care. Students learn how to care for these patients, and also see that there are careers in nursing outside of the hospital setting.”