ASCC Nursing Students Research NCDs on Manu’a
December 9, 2015
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
In early December, a group of 10 Practical Nursing students from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) returned from their Manu’a Community Outreach Project, a trip to provide basic health information and services, and to conduct research on non-communicable disease (NCD) incidences in Manu’a. The group spent more than two weeks living and working among the residents of Ofu and Olosega, and had intended to also include Ta’u in their itinerary until the inclement weather of Tropical Storm Tuni created unsafe conditions for inter-island travel.
ASCC Nursing Department chairperson Ms. Lele Ah Mu explained that the community outreach project is part of the current nursing course Introduction to Adult Health (NUR 180) that begins in the acute setting at LBJ Hospital and ends with a comprehensive look at the responsibilities of the Community/Public Health nurse in providing health care and teaching on the prevalent non-communicable diseases found within our islands. The project included data collection that would identify the number of people with NCDs and support the healthcare needs of Manu’a residents.
“The data we collected indicates hypertension, diabetes, and gout as the top three NCDs in the Manu’a islands,” said Ah Mu. “There were individuals diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes with extremely high values that we subsequently rechecked throughout our stay to ensure that the values were reduced to a safe number.” The NUR 180 students worked in teams of two to address particular NCDs. Fenumiai Iosia and Iris Hirata focused on hypertension; Katie Fano and Shantel Iatala Lanki on diabetes; Lorraine Fano and Ronald Roque on heart disease; Clarice Cokanasiga and Veronika Tagoa'i on gout; and Temukisa Atafua and Toaono Pese on cellulitis.
The nursing students were able to provide health teaching to a total of 148 people on preventive measures for the common NCDs. This included the children at the Olosega Elementary School, for whom the visitors also provided lessons on health basics such as hand hygiene and nutrition. “Our project was a success even though we were stranded on Ofu and Olosega,” said Ah Mu. “Our extra time there enabled us to follow up with additional health teaching and the re-checking of blood pressure and blood sugar levels for the hypertensive and diabetic clients. In turn, the people of both villages generously supported our group with food and water until our return home.”
On behalf of the nursing students, Ah Mu expressed her gratitude to the Faiai family in Olosega who hosted the group, and to the Ofu Dispensary Public Health nurse and EMS staff for providing transportation, medical assistance and support despite short notice. “Without them, the trip and our intended purpose of covering each household would not have been as successful,” she said. The Manu’a Community Outreach Project was funded through a Department of the Interior Nursing grant.
More information on the ASCC Nursing Program is available in the ASCC Catalog, posted online at the College’s website: www.amsamoa.edu/catalogs.html.