BSU nursing students develop public health strategies in partnership with Interfaith Sanctuary

Boise State University nursing students collaborated with our shelter this year to develop public health strategies and interventions designed to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group visited our shelter once a week for two semesters to identify the ways we could best protect our community and in the process gained experience they say will influence their work moving forward.

During their time here, the students created a book for staff with research they completed describing some of the most effective tools and strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. They also helped us combat misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots in order to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and their efforts paid off – BSU’s nursing students helped convince at least 20 guests to get the shot after discussing its benefits.

Partnerships like this are not only an opportunity to learn, but can also result in better health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness when they enter the hospital system, the students said. Here’s what they had to say in their own words:

Kayla Cucozo: “We get a lot of your typical textbook experience in the hospital and certain facilities, so I think it’s sweet to be able to go out into the community where we live and get to know a bunch of different people. And it was awesome just to talk to residents, let them know we’re here to take care of them, build that rapport, and then hear them say things like, ‘I’ll be at St. Luke’s in downtown and maybe I’ll see you there!’ It was great to be able to show them that we care in a community where they feel safe and welcome.”

Katrina Fabri: “I was excited [to work with Interfaith] because being in school, you get caught up in work and life, and I wasn’t going into communities to help as much. Being here was refreshing and brought me into a community that I would love to volunteer with after I graduate. It was refreshing and nice to be somewhere you felt like you could actually help by taking yourself out of your personal world and helping somebody else.

Erin Rodriguez: “It’s so important that groups come and do this kind of thing. Homeless communities are so stigmatized and individuals experiencing homelessness are often looked down upon in our society. Many state and federal policies don’t have plans to help this community in the way it needs to be helped. Housing is inaccessible right now and that’s not just an Idaho thing, it’s nationwide. It was awesome that we were able to come here and get to know the residents and also help the community in the little bit that we were able to. People experiencing homelessness are people too.”