On April 14, Professor Karen Padreza and her eight Community Health Perspectives clinical students traveled to Fair Lawn Jewish Center for Holocaust Survivors to volunteer at Café Europa, a social event for Holocaust survivors in Bergen and Passaic counties.
Café Europa provides a safe and comfortable space for Holocaust survivors in their local communities. Through the generosity of Mrs. Melanie Lester of Jewish Family Services (JFS), who hosts the event on the second Tuesday of each month, the students were able to talk to over 50 Holocaust survivors while helping the JFS staff serve lunch to the participants. The students heard the participants' tales of survival in concentration camps, escape from Nazi Germany, and the struggles of starting a new life in America.
Demi Piekarsky, one of the clinical students who helped to organize the trip, said the experience emphasized how important it is for nurses to get to know their patients as individuals.
"I know that this group of clinical students will never look at a patient as just a body in a bed, but as a human being with a story," Piekarsky said. "As nurses, it's so important for us to get to know our patients, because a person's past can affect their road to recovery. You never know what a person's struggles may have been unless you take the time to talk to them."
Jewish Family Services identifies survivors through word-of-mouth, agencies, and rehab centers who contact them when Holocaust survivors are discharged. Licensed social workers from JFS attend the Café Europa event each month and provide materials and counseling about services to Holocaust survivors who may be in need.
Professor Karen Padreza said she hoped the students learned the importance of sensitivity in nursing practice.
"Participation in events like Café Europa enhances sensitivity, tolerance and underscores the importance of being nonjudgmental in the provision of all nursing care regardless of the setting," Professor Padreza said.
About Seton Hall University College of Nursing
Seton Hall University College of Nursing offered the first baccalaureate nursing program in New Jersey in 1937 and is CCNE-accredited through June of 2019. The graduate program was established in 1975, the Ph.D. program in 2006 and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program in 2009. U.S. News & World Report ranks Seton Hall University College of Nursing in the top 75 graduate nursing programs in the country. The College of Nursing's mission is to educate baccalaureate-prepared generalists and advanced practitioners of nursing who aspire to be innovators and leaders in the nursing profession.