Southwestern Assists Thousands at San Antonio Health Fair

David Hernandez, Southwestern, senior nursing major, draws blood from a patient during the three-day Pathways to Health event in San Antonio.

David Hernandez, Southwestern, senior nursing major, draws blood from a patient during the three-day Pathways to Health event in San Antonio.

Southwestern Adventist University’s nursing department sent 70 students and faculty to the three-day “Your Best Pathway to Health” health fair held April 8-10 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Over $20 million in health care services were provided free to 6,192 San Antonio residents, including 360 people getting free surgical services, worth $10 million. The fair was jointly sponsored by Pathway to Health, Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) and the Texas Department of Health.

“When I saw people coming in, I was pretty excited because I was working in pediatrics,” said Mauricio Negrete, senior nursing major. “The first day the event started at 7 a.m. but we didn’t get any kids until 9, so on the second day we went outside and started going through the lines looking for kids. We brought them in faster so we could help more of them.”

Pathway to Health not only helped many residents of San Antonio but it also gave Southwestern nursing majors an opportunity to get hands-on experience and network with other people in the health field.

“I got to work with doctors from Australia, Colorado, Iowa, California and other places,” said Negrete. “But the best thing was the advice they gave me and to watch how each region had their own way of doing things.  The greatest part was that we all had the same goal of treating and serving people.”

“When I first got there, I was a bit nervous because I was poking needles into people who wanted to give blood,” said David Hernandez, senior nursing major. “I learned a lot about phlebotomy, including how to treat people and make them comfortable.”

In addition to the health fair offering health care services, attendees could talk to and get  counseling from a Seventh-day Adventist minister. Volunteers had the choice of praying for the people they were helping.

“One woman had three kids and one at home all under the age of ten,” said Negrete. “She was smiling and acting as though everything was good. But you could see the look of stress on her face.  Earlier that day our leader had encouraged us to pray for every patient that we saw. I felt impressed to pray for the lady. I did, and she was very thankful. When I got to the hotel I felt good because I was able to pray and treat someone, and they might not let you do that at a regular hospital.”

The health care service gave Southwestern nursing students a chance to put into practice the skills they were learning in the classroom.

Mauricio Negrete, Southwestern senior nursing major (center) stands with Annalise Lang, a volunteer from California and Dr. David Chang from Australia.

Mauricio Negrete, Southwestern senior nursing major (right) stands with Annalise Lang, a volunteer from California and Dr. David Chang from Australia.

“Cultural competence class really helped me during Pathways,” said Hernandez. “A lot of people from varying backgrounds came to get checked by us. How you acted could change the way they saw you, so you had to be aware of the way you talked, looked and spoke to them.”

“My teachers and instructors in the nursing department really prepared me, especially in pediatrics,” said Negrete. “My clinical instructor really pushed me to learn a lot more than I thought I could in pediatrics. And it’s good to see all the things we learned in the classroom being put into practice in the real world. It really puts everything into perspective.

This type of health fair not only affects the people getting the free health care but those who are volunteering as well. The event demonstrated to volunteers the need for their help in the community, and provided ideas on how they could help others.

“The Pathway to Health event really opened my eyes and made me realize how much I can help people in need,” said Hernandez.  “I’ll be going to the one in Spokane, Washington on Aug. 3-4. I would also like to someday do something like this at my own clinic, and encourage my friends to provide this service to people who can’t afford medical care.”

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1 Comment

  1. Nef Acuna
    April 25, 23:36 Reply
    This is a great news. I just want to clarify that Mauricio Negrete is not in the center, he is on the right side, the man in the center is Dr. Chang. Congratulations Mauricio, Jesus is proud of you all who participated in the project.

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