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Nurses Rally Against H1N1 at Columbus State University
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Red Cross volunteer nurses and student nurses are fanning out across Georgia's Columbus State University campus to educate students, faculty, employees and their families about the H1N1 Flu virus.
October 14, 2009

School of Nursing senior year students have been available to teach pandemic flu classes at Columbus State University since 2006. Typically, a class was requested every few months. There just wasn't a lot of interest in the Pandemic Flu Information Series.

Columbus State University senior nursing majors Titisha Cochran, left, and Sophia Cenatus get a little help from their professor, Carlie Frederick, during an early October presentation about the H1N1 pandemic flu
Bill Sutley, CSU Public Relations

This school year has been different. The first student through the door of the student health service this fall was H1N1 positive. The men's basketball team lined up for flu shots. The women's soccer team sought guidance. A link with H1N1 updates and tips was posted on the front page of the university's Web site. Requests for pandemic flu training spiraled through the roof.

Nursing School professor Carlie Frederick needed a lot more pandemic flu instructors. She invited all senior-level nursing students to become Red Cross volunteer instructors. Ninety percent of the senior class (75 students) signed up to work alongside Red Cross nurse volunteers.

Educating the campus community about H1N1 one-on-one and in small groups is vital. "We think people are educating themselves," says Frederick, "but they are not."

This troupe of about 100 Red Cross volunteers are a determined group, willing to go to great lengths to serve.

One night, for example, a coed, certain she had contracted Swine Flu, called campus police for a ride to the student health service. Within minutes a Red Cross student nurse volunteer was in that coed's dorm, briefing and calming pajama-clad residents.

Nurse instructors expect to reach 10,000 people. H1N1 classes are taking place in every dorm. Nurses staff tables in the cafeteria, in the library, answering questions and giving people handouts when they walk in and when they walk out.

Red Cross student nurses sit in the student health clinic, providing education about washing hands and urging that students stay in if don't feel well. When three gallon bottles of hand sanitizer were donated, the image of a Red Cross student nurse pin was pasted on each bottle and a gallon of hand sanitizer was placed in each of the three campus computer labs.

Nurse volunteers are teaching a H1N1 class in every major course of study, such as English, standing in for the regularly-scheduled teacher during that one class period. Instructors are teaching kindergarten and elementary school children, teens and seniors hand-washing techniques and other practices that can help minimize the risk of contracting flu this season.

From all accounts, the student nurse H1N1 education program at Columbus State University is working. Most telling of the program's success is the request from dozens of junior-class nursing students to become involved. Juniors don't have the background to be lead instructors, but they sure can go along and help and rub elbows with more credentialed Red Cross nurse volunteers. Professor Frederick sees to it that they do.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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