CLEMSON — Students from Clemson University’s College of Health, Education and Human Development are not waiting until graduation to tackle the issues of breast cancer and heart disease, among the leading causes of death of women ages 45 and older in the U.S.

This summer, nursing and public health sciences students from the College — supervised by professional faculty and staff from the Joseph F. Sullivan Center, Clemson’s interdisciplinary health center — are offering physicals to uninsured, underserved women ages 47-64 throughout the Upstate, with a particular focus on heart and breast health.

The women are receiving head-to-toe physicals, including gynecological exams, mammograms, cardiovascular exams, lab work and information on nutrition and exercise.

In partnership with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Best Chance Network and WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) programs, the initiative is being held at hospitals, practices and clinics.

The Best Chance Network works to reduce breast and cervical cancer deaths among women ages 47-64 by providing free screenings, and WISEWOMAN aims to reduce heart disease and stroke risk among same demographic through free health screenings and lifestyle education.

The program benefits patients like “Betty,” who received her physical from the Clemson students Friday at a clinic held at the AnMed Health Infusion Center in Anderson.

“I love this program,” said Betty, whose own mother died of breast cancer at age 52. “As you get older, it (staying healthy) gets harder, and we all just want to be healthy.”

The Sullivan Center, along with Clemson students from various programs, including nursing, public health, languages and recreational therapy, works with the Best Chance Network and WISEWOMAN, as well as a host of other community partners, throughout the year in an effort to bring health care to underserved populations. Last week, the Sullivan Center began the first of 10 clinics for migrant and seasonal farmworkers that will offer flu shots, physicals, acute care and diabetes and hypertension screenings and management.

“These partnerships have been invaluable in so many ways,” said Sullivan Center director Paula Watt. “Not only do our students learn skills that they will take with them after graduation, but they also learn about the health care needs of underserved populations.”

That has been the case for health sciences student Shana Madden, who spent the day taking vitals and checking hemoglobin at Friday’s clinic in Anderson. “This opportunity is showing me how a clinical setting operates and what quality, hands-on care looks like,” she said.

The Joseph F. Sullivan Center is a nurse-managed health center that provides opportunities for Clemson nursing and public health students and faculty to practice in state-of-the-art settings and for clients to have direct access to nursing services. The Sullivan Center provides health services to all employees on the Clemson campus, and its community outreach programs have become a model for how to serve rural and underserved communities.

The Sullivan Center is part of Clemson’s College of Health, Education and Human Development, which houses the University’s School of Nursing, public health sciences department, Eugene T. Moore School of Education and parks, recreation and tourism management department, as well as a host of centers, institutes and distance education programs.

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