Response Magazine | Seattle Life | Student Life

Research update: tackling infectious disease, responses to racism, and reading

Faculty and students across the disciplines produced noteworthy research — exploring ways to combat the spread of disease, better understand responses to racist behavior, and teach reading across language barriers.

Adjunct nursing instructor Mihkaila Wickline and nursing students Erin Jones ’17, Mallory Loomis ’17, Shalise Mealey ’17, Meagan Newman ’17, Holly Schroder ’17, and Ashlynn Smith ’17 published an article in Public Health Nursing about infection control in a shelter serving trafficked women in Seattle.

Wickline and the students partnered with the Seattle-based nonprofit organization Real Escape from the Sex Trade, which operates a short-term shelter for women who want to explore leaving the sex trade. As part of a service-learning course where small teams of Seattle Pacific nursing students partnered with nonprofit agencies around Seattle, the team developed a plan to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, including the cold, flu, and meningitis, at the shelter.

“I learned a lot about how there is a need in shelters to educate the employees and volunteers on how to protect themselves and others against infectious diseases,” said Mealey, who is now a labor and delivery nurse in Austin, Texas. “This project helped open my eyes to where women might be coming from and how I can best support them if they come from an unsafe environment or were part of the sex trade.”

The article, “Development of a comprehensive infection control program for a short-term shelter serving trafficked women,” was published in the January/February 2019 issue of the journal.

“This project helped open my eyes to where women might be coming from and how I can best support them if they come from an unsafe environment or were part of the sex trade.” — Shalise Mealey ’17

At the beginning of the project, REST staff asked students to develop a plan that would reduce the spread of infectious diseases among staff and guests while also accounting for the fact that infectious diseases can be strongly stigmatized among sex trade workers. That meant shelter residents would be unlikely to practice typical hospital behaviors to prevent the spread of infection, like wearing gowns and masks. The students surveyed REST staff to develop an infectious disease booklet and guidelines for hand hygiene, food handling, and environmental cleanliness, which they presented to organization staff at the end of the quarter.

“This project and the SPU School of Nursing prepared me to view all of my patients and clients with the utmost respect and from a place of humility,” said Loomis, who works in California as a school nurse for medically fragile children. “We have so much to learn from our patients and have a responsibility to provide comprehensive, culturally sensitive, trauma-informed care. I was equipped with hands-on and verbal skills to strive for that standard every day.”

Get Response magazine
Subscribe to SPU's Response magazine, and discover how people in our community are impacting the world for good — and you can too!
Subscribe Now