A New Culture of Care: More than Medicine

Volunteer Spotlight

Fionnuala Brown, Ph.D volunteer at Mission of Mercy since 2012.

Together, we are inspiring hope and improving health through education.

Diabetes is a widespread problem in America, especially among the disadvantaged and low-income population. Although some of the cause can be attributed to heredity, the majority of the problem can be summed up in one word – diet.

A doctor can prescribe all the right medications, but if a patient doesn’t understand how to change their eating habits and lifestyle, there is no winning the war against this disease.

That’s where Fionnuala Brown comes in. A wife, a mother of two, and a Nursing Ph.D student at ASU, she has volunteered as a nurse practitioner at our Phoenix clinic since 2012. She knows that approximately half of all Hispanic patients diagnosed with Type II Diabetes (DM) visit community health clinics for their care…

She also knows that when it comes to managing the disease, the deck is stacked against them – cultural eating habits, lack of access to healthy food, language barriers, and more give diabetes the upper hand.

Two years ago, she saw an opportunity to address the problem by taking care beyond the clinic, to the classroom. She chose to work with Mission of Mercy patients for her Ph.D project.

Working in partnership with ASU and Esperança, a local Phoenix nonprofit that provides community health education, Fionnuala helped to recruit patients and coordinate a 6-week group class (2 hours per week) focused on culturally-sensitive diabetes education for Mission of Mercy patients.

Her hope was that through education, she could show measurable improvement in the health of her patients. It’s working! Fifteen Mission of Mercy patients with Type II Diabetes completed the program. Average A1C levels (an indicator of diabetes) for the group dropped significantly!  Ten participants even lost weight.

The program was such a success that, with your support, and the help of partner organizations, our vision is to offer culturally sensitive health education consistently at all of our clinic locations. Thank you, Fionnuala, for bringing Mercy to our patients on another level. Congrats on your Ph.D in Nursing!

READ FULL NEWSLETTER about the Impact of your contributions!
Dignity Digest: Summer Newsletter.