Tiny town touched by students


    By Lyndsey Payzant

    In the remote desert of central Utah, 90 miles from any city, lies the tiny town of Tintic, where the 100 residents live a solitary and self-reliant life, requiring little outside help.

    One area they need help in, however, is health care. Being so far from civilization makes traditional health care hard to come by, so a group of BYU students took it to them.

    Last semester, eight students from the College of Nursing traveled to Tintic as part of a project for a Community Nursing Class.

    ?We went, planning to assess the community?s lifestyle and health habits,? said Jessica Christensen, 20, from Nevada City, Calif. ?We wanted to see what we could bring to this community to help.?

    The students and their faculty advisor, Erin Maughan, decided to focus on one high school and two elementary schools because of their central location to the small surrounding communities. They came prepared to perform basic health assessments, offering blood pressure and glucose testing to staff and students. Vision screenings were also given to all students.

    ?The purpose of a community assessment is to identify areas that could be improved and do something about them,? Maughan said. ?We wanted to learn about the community and look for specific health and safety concerns, which can be common since they are so far from any cities.?

    Tintic lies about three and a half hours southwest of Provo on the west side of Utah Lake. The main part of town consists of an LDS church and two schools.

    ?Those people live out there because they want to live far away from civilization,? Christensen said. ?They?re really self-sufficient and reliant on themselves, so they don?t want to accept much help.?

    Facing so much disinterest from the town was a challenge for the students, who brainstormed ways to help without imposing on the residents.

    Many students were not immunized, Christensen said. Fresh produce was hard to come by?school lunches offered canned fruit cocktail, which ?isn?t that great?we wanted them to have fresh fruits and vegetables,? she said.

    Once residents realized the students were there to help, they were receptive.

    ?No one there had had much access to health care before,? said Kristen Lindsay, 21, from San Jose, Calif. ?Elderly people were enthusiastic to learn more.?

    Students were especially excited and cooperative during the assessment, Lindsay said.

    ?The students [in Tintic] were even more enthusiastic to health care education than the students around here,? Lindsay said. ?Here, they grow up with it, but it was all new to those kids.?

    The Utah Department of Health went to Tintic to administer immunization shots and cholesterol tests the week after the students left.

    Maughan said she plans to continue the Tintic project this semester, taking another group of students on an overnight trip in March. Last semester?s students recorded their work in a portfolio that will be passed on to future students.

    ?That community gave us so much?we learned a lot from them,? Maughan said. ?They have such a zest for life, and they are independent since they can?t run around the corner for help like we can.?

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