News & Events

Vulnerable Populations: Big Investment, Tremendous Rewards
Seton Hall > News & Events 

Romelia FreydelAs part of a Catholic University, the College of Nursing ensures that students work with vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populations are broadly defined as those at risk for health disparities and may include certain racial or ethnic populations, or populations related to socioeconomic status, geography, gender, age, disability status or risk status related to sex and gender. After graduation, our alumni continue to work with vulnerable populations throughout the world.

Romelia Freydel ’08, R.N., who currently works at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center - Barnabas Health, recently enrolled in our Pediatric Nurse Practitioner M.S.N. program. Freydel began her career at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Newark Beth Israel, working with critically ill newborns; she now works in their Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where she works with critically ill infants, children and teenagers.

Although it is sometimes a challenge to work with this vulnerable population, the benchmarks that occur when a patient is improving are very rewarding. “The hardest part of my job is when parents have to visit their sick child every day, but that is where I help make a difference. My happiest moments are getting to witness our patients’ milestones, whether it’s drinking from a bottle or holding a pacifier on their own. When a parent finally gets to take their child home, it is extremely gratifying,” says Freydel.

Freydel generally meets a child for the first time when they are admitted to the PICU. She notes, “The progression from sick child to well child is incredible; it is like watching a child come back to life.”

Special Needs Children

The Morris-Union Jointure Commission is a regional collaborative public school district that provides services and programs to meet the special needs of its 29 constituent school districts, and the three school nurses who work there are all Seton Hall alumni. Elizabeth Donzella ’83, R.N., and Angela Valerio ’80, R.N., both earned certificates in school nursing from Seton Hall in 1998 and 2008, respectively. Laura Sgalia ’10, R.N., is wrapping up courses at the College of Nursing to complete her certification.

The commission educates 240 children who have been diagnosed with varying stages of autism. As school nurses, Donzella, Valerio and Sgalia have to assist those students, as well as staff; a good percentage of their patients are actually staff who have been (unintentionally) injured by students. Sgalia notes that an objective of the commission is to integrate students, many of whom have co-morbidities, into the community, which presents a special challenge for the nurses. She says, “As part of the program, students use the pool, and we have to be present and prepared if they experience a seizure or multiple seizures.”

Valerio adds that “children with unmet health needs have a difficult time engaging in the educational process. Therefore, maximizing a student’s health status will increase their ability to learn.”

Still, they all enjoy working with this population. Sgalia states, “I have always been a huge believer in the power of therapy, from my work at Kessler working with patients who have brain injuries, to what I experience every day here. Working continuously to get students and patients to the highest level of functioning possible is what I adore most about this field.”

For more information please contact:
Christine Aromando
(973) 378-9840


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