Tusculum University nursing students brought joy to members of the Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center during the global coronavirus pandemic with a vehicle parade that enabled these up-and-coming professionals to demonstrate the compassionate side of health care.
About 30 students and a handful of nursing professors decorated their vehicles and showered members with love as they waved, honked horns, held signs and greeted members while they drove by the center’s entrance Wednesday, Aug. 19. The students took appropriate precautions by wearing face coverings.
Jackson Cauthen, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing, put balloons on his vehicle and made two signs. One said, “We love the Crumley House,” and the other said, “TU supports you.”
“Although we have to be separated by distance, that does not mean we have to stay disconnected with each other,” Cauthen said. “Community nursing is a big part of the nursing profession, and to expand our presence outside the hospital is important to become a well-rounded nurse. The Tusculum nursing program cares about others, and we like to go out to the community and give back to the community.”
With the coronavirus placing limitations on Crumley House members’ contact with others, Tusculum professors who partnered with facility leaders on this initiative considered it a powerful learning opportunity for the students.
“Nurses play a vital role in a patient’s health and well-being, and the care they deliver is not limited to medical needs,” said Dr. Teressa Wexler, assistant dean of Tusculum’s College of Nursing. “They are also nurturers who are cognizant of other needs patients have and are prepared to address them as best they can. We wanted our nurses to understand how the social interaction we provided in this visit, even though it was from a distance, benefited the Crumley House’s members considerably.”
The Crumley House is a nonprofit organization established in 1992 that provides residential and rehabilitation services as well as an adult day care program for those who have acquired and survived a traumatic brain injury. The facility also assists these individuals with applying for Social Security benefits, TennCare and other forms of insurance and referrals for housing as part of an effort to bridge the gap in services.
Alice Lawson, an assistant professor of nursing, said the students played a vital role in the mental health of Crumley House members who have experienced limited visitation during the pandemic as a safety measure. Students who participated were in the community-based nursing and mental health nursing classes, she said.
“The prolonged nature of a situation such as the coronavirus can have a profound effect on someone’s mental health,” Lawson said. “Our parade served as a wonderful reminder for our students about how they can make a difference at a critical juncture in people’s lives.”
Clay Morelock, the Crumley House’s program director, appreciated the student and faculty support and said it made a difference for the members.
“This was a boost to a lot of people’s morale,” Morelock said. “The nursing students were great, and our members loved it. We greatly appreciate Tusculum’s efforts in conducting this parade.
“Times are tough on everyone right now because of the coronavirus, and we have had to limit our members’ connection with others because of it. Any time our members can have interaction with others, see smiling faces and know people care about them definitely lifts their spirits.”
Because of the coronavirus, the Crumley House has had to postpone many fundraising activities. The facility is holding Donation Days Aug. 19-21 to provide financial resources that would normally come from popular fundraising events.
In 2019, the Crumley House was one of the places Tusculum visited during the university’s annual Nettie Fowler McCormick Service Day. Students and faculty played Uno, checkers and board games with the members and listened as the members shared their personal stories. Cauthen remembered that day fondly and said all of the nursing students loved that experience. He said it was great to see everyone at the Crumley House again Wednesday.
Dr. Wexler said the 2019 visit to the Crumley House was uplifting to her, and she has spoken with leaders at the facility about ways the College of Nursing can stay involved there.