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Bellingham Native Brings Nursing Skills Back to her Community

Apr 26, 2014 11:40AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Sarah Waskiewicz, a lifelong Bellingham resident and graduate of Bellingham Memorial High School, class of 1996, has been a registered nurse (RN) for the last thirteen years, working at the Kent County Hospital in Warwick, RI, and is now a public health nurse for the Board of Health here in Bellingham.
The public health nurse, a new position, is being funded through the Board of Health’s budget. While her role is part-time, Waskiewicz (pictured above) clearly spends a lot of time thinking about what she can do to help make Bellingham a better place. Her enthusiasm for her work is obvious. She pointed to the suggestion box posted at the senior center and said, “I’m looking for ideas of what I can do to help the people of Bellingham.” She continued, “I’ve just been on the job since February, so people are still getting to know me here at the senior center. I offer monthly lectures on topics such as stroke and dehydration.”
Waskiewicz is offering a stroke awareness program on May 18, 10:30–11:30 am, at the senior center. “I see firsthand, in my work as a nurse in the emergency room at Kent County Hospital, the difference it can make if people recognize the symptoms of stroke,” she noted. “In July we’ll have a program about the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.”
Besides offering educational programs, Waskiewicz is responsible for documenting and following up on all reports of residents who have contracted communicable diseases such as norovirus, measles, tuberculosis, and flu. She explained, “We want to know if any of these people are working in schools or restaurants.”
Some programs Waskiewicz offers are public. Her blood-pressure clinics have become so popular that she is considering extending the hours she makes them available. As part of her outreach, she also goes right in to people’s homes. “I go with Senior Center Outreach Coordinator Sheila Ronkin to visit Depot Court and Wrentham Manor,” Waskiewicz explained. “I had no idea there was so much going on at the senior center, in addition to adult daycare assistance.”
She works nights at Kent County Hospital so that she can be available during the day to spend time doing special programs such as the ones at the senior center. But she also has plans in the works to organize a flu clinic for town employees in the fall, as well as at the senior center. In December she intends to teach hand-washing clinics in Bellingham public schools.
“I’ve been in discussion with COA director Laura DeMattia about planning a health fair in the coming months,” she noted. “We had a medication ‘bring-back’ program in April that was coordinated with the police department to allow people to dispose of prescription medications they were unable to use. We hope to set up a regular program, like the police have in Franklin.”
This young but experienced nurse is looking to give back to the town she grew up in. How lucky for Bellingham that she has brought her skills home and is putting them to work right here.
To contact Waskiewicz, email her at [email protected] or call the Board of Health at 508-966-5820.
story & photo by Marjorie Turner Hollman
Bulletin Contributing Writer





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