Sunday, October 2, 2016

September Volunteering


September was a very busy month with a lot of challenging classwork and studying for exams. I felt particularly challenged by this last block, which covered an enormous amount of material, and I dedicated a large amount of time to studying. I also had to take some time away for a family medical emergency which is unfortunately still unfolding. 

However, I was able to volunteer some time in September- I’ve been working with the community public health organization, the New Orleans Harm Reduction Network for over a year, and I put in two four hour days of time with them this month. NOHRN is an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and opiate overdose prevention, and utilizes the principles of harm reduction to deliver resources to an underserved and often isolated patient/client population. These resources include clean syringes, naloxone, HIV and HCV testing, as well as education and referral to further resources. With Dr. Kantor of the New Orleans Health Department authorizing a standing order for the organization to provide naloxone, we’ve been distributing the life saving opioid reversal medication to chronic users of opiates.

On behalf of the NOHRN, I also provided an overdose recognition, prevention and treatment workshop for members of a soup kitchen organization in New Orleans; Community Kitchen. Because Community Kitchen often distributes food in areas with high densities of IV drug users, members have often been the first to notice and call emergency services for people who have overdosed. Given this proximity, they reached out to NOHRN and asked for us to provide a workshop for soup kitchen volunteers and other interested parties. Other volunteers with NOHRN and I spent about 2 hours discussing signs and symptoms of opioid overdose, as well as emergency first aid in those situations.

I was only able to join Dr. Charles Zhang on his Street Medicine walks one night this month, but we had several meaningful encounters with homeless patients who live in the area around the French Quarter. I distributed hygiene supplies and discussed infection prevention through the use of clean socks with one fellow who had a small abscess on his foot, and the doctor provided him with some antibiotic cream. We were out on the street walk for about 4 hours.

Lastly, I’m extremely excited to discuss a project I just started working on! 
I’ve been an instructor at the Tulane University Trauma Education Institute for some time, and we teach a semester long EMT class twice a year. I’ve been inspired by the graduate Med-Pharm student involvement at Sci High, and so I spoke with the principal (Ms. Chana Benenson) and the careers counselor (Ms. Jennifer Naum) about increasing access for Sci High seniors who are interested in careers in medicine, nursing, public health, to get involved with EMS education. They were excited about the prospect, and now I’m working on writing grant proposals to build a scholarship program for students to get into the course at no cost to them.

Total volunteering in September: 14 hours.