As she earns her doctorate here, a nursing professor with a heart for homeless women is helping to reduce the likelihood of them ending up back on the streets or in jail.
Assistant Professor of Nursing Kathy McKinnon is evaluating the effectiveness of programs at The Lord’s Place’s Burckle Place, a supportive housing program for single women. The program is a bridge from homelessness to independence, with classes and workshops on life skills and support from health care providers.
McKinnon wants to see the women experience restoration with their families, as well as in their lives. Eighty percent of women in jail are mothers, she said. Burckle Place gives them the tools to rebuild their lives and grow spiritually.
Burckle Place supports 11 women who have fallen through the cracks, sometimes due to mental health issues, said Val Stanley, director of women’s services.
“Kathy was a godsend since the day she engaged with us,” Stanley said.
Before McKinnon did an internship at Burckle Place, she brought her undergraduate nursing students there to teach about proper health care and answer questions. Students in her community clinical nursing course teach women about self-care, hygiene, medications and spiritual care.
All Doctor of Nursing Practice students complete a scholarly project. McKinnon’s project will help The Lord’s Place assess the women’s needs sooner and with greater consistency so that the staff can create personalized recovery tracks, Stanley said.
McKinnon recognized the traumas in the residents’ lives and instructed them on how to move forward. A two-time cancer survivor acquainted with suffering, she taught them stress management skills.
“We do a lot of mind, body, spirit work here, so she has shared a great many techniques,” Stanley said.
McKinnon is humbled by how the women have embraced her, she said.
“As I’ve seen them grow and heal, I’ve realized that we all have pain, suffering and trauma,” McKinnon said. “When I see these women, I see them as friends. I’ve never experienced such unconditional love.”
Photo: Nursing professor Kathy McKinnon's scholarly project for her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is to determine how The Lord's Place can reduce the recurrence of homelessness among women.