* Purdue School of Nursing

April 17, 2007

Trinity Nursing Clinic celebrates anniversary

Jennifer Sundell, shares a book with Ian
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The Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health will celebrate its one-year anniversary during an open house on Wednesday (April 18).

The open house will take place from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at 509 North St. in Lafayette. The clinic is a partnership between the Purdue School of Nursing and Trinity United Methodist Church to serve uninsured families and families on Medicaid that may otherwise not have access to primary health-care services for their children.

The clinic is staffed by nursing graduate students who practice under the supervision of advanced-practice nursing faculty and accepts clients of any income level. Patients who qualify for a sliding-fee scale receive a discount on services, said Julie C. Novak, associate dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences and head of the School of Nursing.

"With our five clinics, the Purdue University School of Nursing is creating an alternate system of care for the underserved that is now being replicated in other areas of Indiana," she said. "Since its opening one year ago, the clinic's staff has seen more than 500 children."

The School of Nursing is involved with three other nurse-managed clinics: Nursing Center for Family Health in West Lafayette, Family Health Clinic of Monon and Family Health Clinic of Carroll County. A fifth site, developed at the Mental Health Association Tippecanoe County, provides screening, individual and support group services.

The Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health was developed because of the need for infant and child health care in the downtown Lafayette and Wabash River corridor area. The dramatic rise in substantiated child abuse cases from 68 in 1998 to 400 in 2005 was a call to action for the School of Nursing, Novak said.

Novel aspects of the center include the incorporation of Baby Teaching Activities for Learning and Knowledge program, or Baby TALK, and Harvard pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton's Touchpoints program. This program focuses on building nurturing family-child relationships from before birth through the early years, she said.

"The Touchpoints model sees the parent as an expert regarding their child and emphasizes anticipatory guidance so that the parent is prepared for each developmental stage," Novak said. "The parent and provider function as a team recognizing predictable spurts proceeded by periods of disorganization and followed by periods of organization. This means that children may act fussy and irritable prior to achieving a developmental milestone, such as crawling or walking. Then, after achieving this milestone, the children will return to their normal behavior."

The clinic also provides hourlong appointments for every patient visit, which allows time for comprehensive examinations and questions from the parents.

"We don't rush patients in and out," said Jennifer Sundell, coordinator of the Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health. "The one-hour appointment allows us to promote educational aspects, including child development and parenting. Our services for children up to 18 years of age can include well-child care, acute illness diagnosis and treatment, the management of stable chronic conditions, parent education and coaching, developmental assessment, and family health promotion. We also offer tobacco cessation for parents who smoke."

The clinic receives support from its partnership with volunteers associated with Trinity United Methodist Church. Church members also provide all newborn and infant patients with a handmade blanket as part of a "Blessing of the Blankets" tradition.

Mary Jo Risk, a retired speech therapist and member of the church, has been volunteering at the Trinity Nursing Clinic several mornings a week since January of this year.

"When I retired, I needed to get involved in the community, and I heard about the clinic's need for volunteers through church," she said. "I love working with children, so the clinic is a perfect opportunity for me."

The clinic also participates in the Reach Out and Read program, which allows children to receive age appropriate books at each visit. Advisory board member Patty Jischke is helping to develop the reading program.

"This program will be expanded this summer with poetry and book readings on the porch of the center," Sundell said.

The clinic also offers a pantry that parents access through a voucher system to obtain clothing, toys and food. Purdue nursing students in senior nursing leadership classes and on-campus organizations collect and donate these items.

Jason Collins, the father of two boys, Ian and Preston, ages 6 years and 8 months respectively, appreciates the work of the clinic's staff and volunteers. Ian suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"We visited the doctor a lot of times for Ian's ADHD," Collins said. "We were not getting any answers. We got more answers in one visit at Trinity than in three months with a physician."

Many aspects of the clinic's programs are available because of the work of volunteers, Sundell said. Mary Lee Archer, an advisory board member, also volunteers.

"I think the clinic is the most inspiring and fulfilling thing that I do," Archer said. "We hope that we don't let any child fall through the cracks. This work fills my heart."

For more information, contact the Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health at (765) 742-8589. Those interested in making a donation or serving as a volunteer can contact the Purdue School of Nursing at (765) 494-6644.

Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, (765) 494-2081,

Sources: Julie C. Novak, (765) 494-2096,

Jennifer Sundell, (765) 494-9067,

Mary Jo Risk, (765) 742-8589

Mary Lee Arsher, (765) 742-8589

Jason Collins, (765) 585-9865

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Jennifer Sundell, coordinator of the Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health, shares a book with patient Ian. The Reach Out and Read program allows children to receive age-appropriate books at each visit. (Photo courtesy of the Trinity Nursing Clinic for Infant and Child Health).

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