Program spotlight: nursing services

Impact’s Clinical Service Program provides a full range of clinical services to low-income individuals living with a diagnosed mental illness. A unique component of this program is Impact’s nursing services, which helps ensure participants’ physical health needs are being met alongside their mental health needs.

Impact’s full-time program nurse works directly with participants, providing direct nursing care and health care support. Additionally, the nurse works to coordinate participants’ health care and medications among multiple providers. Taken together, this work ensures that participants’ unique and comprehensive health needs are met.

While Impact’s primary focus is on mental health, physical and mental health are closely linked: the life expectancy of those living with mental illness is 20 years shorter than the national average. Most of those deaths are due to chronic health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Over half of Impact’s participants have chronic physical conditions that they manage alongside their mental illness. For them, the program nurse has been a lifeline: multiple times, the nurse has caught slow-building medical crises like untreated diabetes and high blood pressure.

The nurse has also helped participants advocate for medical care, whether through accompanying participants to medical appointments and treatments, or helping them talk through physical impairment-related job accommodations they might need to maintain employment.

During the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program nurse has helped lead the agency’s response to the pandemic, including coordinating hospital discharges and follow-up care for participants diagnosed with COVID-19. Once vaccines became available, the program nurse also assisted in coordinating a vaccine clinic for Impact participants.

None of the work of the program nurse would be possible without the relationships and trust built with Impact’s participants. Impact’s current nurse, Maria Moreno, brings over 40 years of experience working with a diverse range of ages and medical needs to her work with Impact. “Maria is such a critical asset to Impact’s participants,” says Patti Capouch, Impact’s Executive Director. “Many of our participants have had negative experiences seeking medical care, and Maria works hard to make sure they feel heard and comfortable receiving medical care. The work she provides is absolutely lifesaving.”