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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Providence Housing Authority, URI College of Nursing
team up to provide health care for elderly, handicapped

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 4, 2001 -- The Providence Housing Authority and the University of Rhode Island’s College of Nursing have teamed up to provide health care to elderly and disabled residents of the agency’s housing complexes.

Through a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Providence Housing Authority is funding a faculty member in the nurse-practitioner graduate program at URI to provide health care services four days a week at the housing agency’s complexes. Warwick’s Anna Fulton, a nurse practitioner with 20 years of experience, is teaching one day a week at URI and providing hands-on clinical experience for URI nursing students at the housing authority health clinics.

Fulton’s primary duty is running the Center for Health and Wellness as part of the Housing Helps Program at three high-rise complexes -- Carroll, Sister Dominica and Dexter Manor. Fulton said residents in the other four complexes are offered transportation to the three clinics for treatment. The Housing Authority serves 1,100 low-income elderly and handicapped residents in a total of seven high-rise units, and the partnership anticipates that about 200 of the authority’s most frail residents will use the services.

"The Housing Authority asked us to put in a bid to place a faculty member in the complexes four days week, and then have the individual teach one day a week in our master’s program for nurse-practitioners," said North Kingstown’s Denise Coppa, director of the URI nurse practitioner program.

For the first month of the partnership, which has been in place for about five months, Fulton recruited patients and made herself available to the residents.

"Already, she has done a remarkable job of getting patients to come see her," Coppa said. "She is helping patients get back in touch with doctors they haven’t seen in a while. Anna is a seasoned professional adept at getting the health care system to work for the residents."

Fulton has been an adjunct faculty member for 17 years at URI, and has worked with many students in a variety of clinical settings, Coppa said.

At the authority clinics, Fulton conducts general wellness assessments, daily living assessments, geriatric assessments, patient education and medical case management. "Right now, Anna is focusing on acute and chronic care issues," Coppa said.

"The partnership between the Providence Housing Authority and the URI College of Nursing provides a vital link and access to a wealth of services, including hands-on assistance from College of Nursing students at the bachelor’s through Ph.D. levels," Coppa said.

At the three housing sites, Fulton is working with one graduate student from the nurse-practitioner program and three undergraduates from community health courses.

"The education component was critical for us," Coppa said.

"Not only do we want to do good care, we’re also showing students and the elderly a different model of care," Fulton said.

Fred Sneesby, supportive services manager for the Providence Housing Authority, said the clinic is just one of many social services the agency provides for its residents. He said Fulton’s mission is to find and help the under-served.

"These are individuals with no health insurance, those with inadequate health care and those who are not accessing the health care system," Sneesby said.

Many of those who will be receiving health services through the partnership are the frail elderly, and the mentally disabled, Sneesby said.

Fulton said she has been conducting home visits, but she also wants residents to visit the clinics. "I like bringing them out of their apartments because some of them get so isolated," she added.

Even in the early months of the program, Fulton said she has been very busy, and she said the students who have worked in the clinic have been enthusiastic. "The residents and the students really like it. The undergraduates have done very well."

Fulton earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the State University of New York at Plattsburg and earned a certificate as a nurse-practitioner from Johns-Hopkins University in Maryland.

For Information: Denise Coppa 401-874-2766, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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