Recent graduate launches unique community nursing partnership

September 24 2007

CERES, Calif. - Some of the 42,000 residents of this city in California’s Central Valley are becoming a little healthier thanks to a new community nursing program that has an unusual sponsor.

The pilot program that provides preventive health screenings and assessments, primarily to those who are uninsured or who lack convenient access to health care, operates in conjunction with the Ceres Police Department.

For police Chief Art de Werk and Daniel Lucky, a registered nurse who is founder and president of Abrams College in nearby Modesto, the program is a natural outreach of the law enforcement mission “to serve and protect.â€Â

Lucky, who completed an online bachelor’s degree in nursing from Indiana State University, came up with the idea for the program while conducting an assessment for a community nursing course.

“I chose to do that in a very unique way. I chose to ride along with the police department, whose work was very fascinating. I saw a natural bridge where police officers can help the community,â€Â Lucky said.

“This community has a relatively high level of poverty and there are a lot of people who cannot get health care services in a way that‘s desirable,â€Â de Werk said. “What Dan is trying to do is to provide a service that is readily accessible and at the same time helps bridge a gap between the police in their traditional role and the community.â€Â

Once the community nursing initiative was launched, starting with blood pressure screenings at a Sunday afternoon flea market, it didn’t take long to produce results.

“The very first person who came through was having a heart attack. He didn’t know it but when they took his vital signs he was actually having a heart attack,â€Â recalled Ed Persike, a community activist who worked with de Werk and Lucky to implement the program.

“Everybody ought to see this as a positive, simply because we’re helping to take care of people,â€Â de Work said. “We are really there to serve the public, and if there’s another element that we can implement that adds to that then I’m all for it.â€Â

The pilot program also includes occupational health assessments of Ceres’ 46 police officers. The assessments are provided by Lucky and students from Abrams College. Screenings of children take place at the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children, which serves a large Spanish-speaking population. On one recent Thursday afternoon, dozens of mothers and children - virtually all of whom are not covered by insurance • waited patiently for hours.

“We said, ‘If anybody needs a well baby check, come on over.’ We had four hours packed full of people,â€Â Lucky said.

The program provides health promotion, protection and maintenance using nursing assessment and nursing care only and not treatment. Prospective patients are referred to appropriate physicians or health care facilities. The program could prove a lifesaver, de Werk said, noting the high stress level and time constraints of a police officer’s job that often lead to less than healthy eating habits.

“Most police officers only live five to seven years after retirement. That’s a very grim statistic but it’s also a manageable statistic if the local agency has enough care about the employees and they have the resources to pull it off,â€Â he said.

Lucky’s outreach with the Healthy Children Partnership, which also had its origins during his pursuit of his bachelor’s degree, drew the attention of his professor who was more than 2,000 miles away.

“Daniel established excellent rapport and a trusting relationship with the population. He developed and implemented several screenings and also developed and presented several health education programs. One of his presentations was on infant CPR for mothers in the neighborhood. He used an interpreter for the program, but his communication and involvement with this population was outstanding,â€Â said Veda Gregory, associate professor of nursing.

Lucky is serving as an adjunct faculty member in Gregory’s class this semester as he pursues a master’s degree in nursing.

For now, Lucky and students at Abrams College, which provides vocational training in the medical and legal services fields, are volunteering their services for the community nursing program.

But volunteers can only do so much. With that in mind, Lucky has come up with a plan to help make the program stand on its own by charging for CPR training he provides. Lucky realizes that will go only so far, but he and his colleagues are confident funding can be secured to help maintain their unique approach to community nursing.

“Every once in a while, a really important thing comes by and people sit back and they say, ‘This is unique,’â€Â Persike said.

Lucky also envisions his startup program, serving a small city in the nation’s largest state, becoming a benchmark community nursing initiative for the nation and beyond.

“I see ISU as a national resource for nursing education,â€Â he said. “To me, Indiana State University is not about serving just the Terre Haute community. It’s about serving the community of the nation and possibly the world, because they’re pioneers in nursing education and supporting community service.â€Â

In addition to giving back to the community, Lucky also gives back to Indiana State. Arriving on the Terre Haute campus for the first time for last May’s graduation, he donated $25,000 to the ISU Foundation to fund scholarships for male nurses. Since then, he’s provided additional funding to help cover the cost of an annual Welcome Back Luncheon for nursing students, a gift matched by Johnson and Johnson. He also donated a first edition 150-year-old copy of Florence Nightingale’s “Notes on Nursing.â€Â Lucky’s first master’s level course served as the inspiration for the donation.

“I just finished my first graduate course and one of first assignments was to read Florence Nightingale’s “Notes on Nursing.â€Â I was deeply moved and thought I could find a book we could secure for the university to serve as a reminder of where professional nursing comes from,â€Â he said.

Carolyn Burns, Student Nursing Association advisor at Indiana State and Lucky’s faculty advisor, feels blessed to have him as part of the ISU nursing team.

“Dan made an impact on nursing the day he arrived on campus for graduation. He is a great role model for students and alumni to see a philanthropist in action. Dan has donated his time, effort, gifts and money to our ISU community and it has made an enormous difference in the lives of the nursing students. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious,â€Â Burns said.

Child health check Daniel Lucky, founder and president of Abrams College in Modesto, Calif., discusses health care needs with a mother and daughter at the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children in Ceres, Calif. The visit is part of an ongoing police-based community nursing initiative developed by Lucky, a recent nursing graduate of Indiana State University. (ISU/Dave Taylor)
Monitoring cops' health Robert Panos, an officer with the Ceres, Calif., police department, receives a health assessment from Daniel Lucky, founder and president of Abrams College in Modesto, Calif. Lucky, a recent nursing graduate of Indiana State University, developed a police-based community nursing program in conjunction with the Ceres Police Department. (ISU/Dave Taylor)
Historic notes Recent Indiana State University nursing graduate Daniel Lucky of Modesto, Calif., donated to the nursing program a first edition copy of Florence Nightingale’s “Notes on Nursing.â€Â (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Daniel Lucky, president, Abrams College: B.S., nursing, Indiana State University, 2006, (209) 491-2233, or; Carolyn Burns, assistant professor of nursing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3480 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or

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Story Highlights

Recent graduate Daniel Lucky, who completed a bachelor's degree in nursing in May, has wasted no time putting community nursing into practice. In a unique partnership with a police department in his native California, Lucky is helping people of all ages.

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