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September 12, 2005

Contact: Patricia Adams

University of Maryland School of Nursing Sends Wellmobiles to Help Hurricane Victims

Baltimore, Md. – Stocked with medical supplies and other necessities, two University of Maryland School of Nursing Wellmobiles departed for the Gulf Coast last week to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Wellmobiles are part of the Governor's Wellmobile program, which is operated by the School of Nursing and staffed by registered nurses and nurse practitioners from the School. The volunteer team traveling with the Wellmobiles consists of five RNs, four nurse practitioners, a School of Nursing student, two drivers and two support personnel. They are working in cooperation with the American Red Cross Headquarters in Brookhaven, Miss., where they will stay for two weeks providing primary health care to hurricane victims.

According to Rebecca Wiseman, PhD, RN, director of the Wellmobile program and one of the volunteers, most of the patients they are aiding are evacuees from New Orleans. “We are treating 200 patients per day, who have a multitude of health problems such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea, and many with chronic diseases that are getting worse,” says Dr. Wiseman. “Some patients have skin ulcers from being in contaminated water, some have unstable blood pressures and some are suffering from anxiety.”

“We are happy to be able to provide this service to our fellow Americans on the Gulf Coast,” says Janet D. Allan, PhD, RN, CS, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing. “However, we need financial assistance to support the cost of the trip.” Dean Allan says the cost of the trip is estimated at $200,000, and, while the effort is supported in part by CareFirst, the University of Maryland Medical System, Atlantic General Hospital and Connect Maryland, Inc., more funds are desperately needed to cover the remainder of the expense.

To help raise monies, Baltimore philanthropists David and Marla Oros are conducting a fundraising effort through their non-profit organization, Connect Maryland, Inc. Donations can be sent to: Connect Maryland, Inc., Attn: Mark Dewire, 100 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. Please make checks payable to: Connect Maryland, Inc. Memo: Wellmobile.

The Governor's Wellmobile Program began in 1994 as a public/private partnership, under the leadership of Delegate Marilyn Goldwater, RN. Today, the School of Nursing operates four 33-foot long Wellmobile vans – two on Maryland's Eastern Shore, one in Central Maryland and one in Western Maryland. Last year, the Wellmobile program provided primary health care to 6,000 uninsured and underinsured individuals.

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