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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 4, 1996)
Continued from Page 1
“These people were the ones who first told
me I had diabetes” she said, “and it came at a
real difficult time in my life.”
After a work-related accident that inflamed
the cartilage of her upper chest, Rohrs was out
of work. She drifted in economic limbo — be
tween employment and disability benefits—as
she waited for her claims to process with her
“All that time, I didn’t have health insurance,
no Medicaid, no anything,” she said. “I really
started to get scared, and I’d think to myself,
'What would I do if something really bad hap
That something did happen.
She began to feel nauseous, her balance and
coordination began failing and her inflamed
cartilage began to ache more and more each day.
Without insurance, the only place she could go
was to the center.
“I knew I didn’t have the money, but they
didn’t care. They brought me in, sat me down
and told me the truth about diabetes and about
arthritis,” Rohrs said.
Now, she said, she wouldn’t dream of leav
ing, even though her disability claims have been
Rohrs looked up and smiled at Renee Gcllcr,
a nurse at the center, when she walked into the
room to take a blood sample.
Geller asked Rohrs how she’d been along
with a few minor health questions, helping
Rohrs keep her mind off the needle in her arm.
Geller gently pulled the needle from Rohrs’
arm and put a cotton ball on the small mark.
Rohrs held the cotton ball as Geller prepared to
apply a bandage.
After 10 minutes, a doctor came in and
stuffed a pink prescription slip into Rohrs’ purse,
wishing her a nice day.
“This place means so much to me,” she said.
“It really did save me. Without it, 1 don’t think I
would be here today.”
On the lookout
Donna Polk was on the telephone in her of
fice, asking the secretary downstairs about the
recent death of a client’s grandchild.
She said she planned to attend the wake and
bring a blanket to the family as a token of friend
ship and caring.
Friendship and caring, she said, are what
being human is all about — a philosophy the
executive director of the NUIHC said she used
in every facet of her life.
So far, it’s worked well, she said.
“We’re very involved in the lives of our pa
tients,” she said. “We want them to know this is
a place they can come to, and not just for health
care, but for life care.”
Polk has a broad vision for the center. The
move to the new building is just the first step,
“I want to make this a one-stop shop in the
community,” she said. “I want a place where
people can get dental care, a place for food
stamps, commodity food items, for condoms,
even for child care.”
Polk envisions a healthy community —
where the elderly citizens who don’t want tc
stay home can come and watch over the chil
dren of the neighborhood, and where violence
and ignorance cannot touch the lives of the
young or the old.
And, she said, it starts in this former ware
house on Q Street.
“Our goal here, right now, is to inform the
community that we’re not here just for urban
Indians,” Polk said. “We’re here for students,
Asian-Americans, African-Americans, the
young, the old — everyone who needs us.”
Two hours after Rohrs left the center for
home, Geller sat in her office, eating something
microwaved in a plastic container.
It was only a 10-minute break, but it would
possibly be the only one for the day. As the
center’s site director and a licensed practical
nurse, Geller’s days are often full.
But Geller said she was happy to be busy.
She remembered a time when the center was
open for only four hours one day a week.
She remembered having to work in a
cramped office with few supplies and obsolete
equipment, trying to make the most of what she
That time was not quite over, she said, but
the load was getting a lot easier.
All of the certified medical personnel at the
center are from Saint Elizabeth’s, she said, ex
cept for people such as herself, who are licensed
to give basic health care services and counsel
The Saint Elizabeth Community Health Cen
ter has a contract with the NUIHC, which re
ceives block grants awarded by the federal gov
ernment to Indian tribes in Nebraska.
“Saint E’s gives us our doctors, our nurses,
our shots and supplies and things like that,” she
said. “We’re responsible for bringing in the cli
ents and administering the programs.”
Programs Gelier listed included HIV testing,
case management for patients without family
doctors, training for student nurses, and educa
tion on issues like prenatal care, breast and cer
vical cancer and nutrition.
Gelier said the center’s future was bright. She
said she looked forward to seeing the clinic and
its programs grow.
“I see it outgrowing me,” she said. “I’m only
an LPN, and I doubt an LPN will be able to
head this place in the future.”
As her break ended, Gelier stood up,
stretched and put on her lab coat.
“I love it here,” she said. “I’ve been offered
a job that pays $5,000 more, but it’s not about
money. It’s about helping the people who re
ally need it.”
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Enter at 8th & S Streets, 1 Block West of Memorial Stadium
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