University of Southern Indiana

Combating Isolation During Pandemic

In response to the pandemic, Amy Todd, a student in the USI RN-BSN Program, created a nursing task force at her church with a goal to help fellow parishioners combat the negative effects from social distancing and isolation.

She mobilized 23 nurses at St. John Catholic Church, Loogootee, Indiana, to make phone calls in an attempt to meet the psycho-social well-being of at-risk groups in their parish. iIndividuals suffering from lack of interaction, loss of independence, financial strain or mental illness are particularly vulnerable. She says that as nurses make these calls they are always “assessing with the intent to refer, if necessary.”

“Evidence shows that fear produces many unhealthy behaviors and responses when pushed to limits,” she said. “And there is plenty of evidence to support that elevated stress damages the mind and the body. This task force is set-up to be as proactive as possible. We know that life for many people in our community is about to get worse before it gets better.”

Serving as the faith community nurse for the parish since 2016, Todd has done a lot of one-on-one care with parishioners and their family members, as well as collaboration within her community to provide better resources for Martin County. Most of her work is in the area of mental health, special needs, eldercare and cancer care.

Todd encourages her nurse colleagues to join her in a research project connected with the Indiana University School of Public Health in response to COVID-19. “This project is focused on the health and well-being of rural communities and their response to the coronavirus,” she said.

“I feel strongly that we are embarking on some unhealthy terrain, and given the skill sets that nurses have – combined with the unique beauty that lies in nursing that is not only a career, but a vocation – we are called to respond," she said.

In an email to her USI instructors, Julie St. Clair, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Melissa Warthen, Instructor in Nursing, Todd said she would not have been able to form the nursing task force if not for the USI RN-BSN Program. “I cannot tell you what a difference this program has made to my confidence and development as a nurse.”

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