TAMPA, Fla. — Dr. LaTiena Williams is an associate professor of nursing at USF.
She’s also making a big impact in the lives of those who have no homes.
The Salvation Army Red Shield Center in Tampa has 160 beds for the homeless, some who have been recently discharged from Tampa General Hospital.
“Because there’s no medical staff at the Salvation Army, you know and you do the next best thing which is to call 911,” said Williams.
But now through a partnership between USF, Tampa General Hospital, and the Salvation Army, Williams is part of the College of Nursing’s Respite Care program and since August she has been treating guests at the shelter.
“What I found out through the process of 911 being called was that they really didn’t need to be called. It could be someone whose blood pressure was extremely high or extremely low, or just them having a sick stomach,” said Williams.
Williams helps monitor medications, giving people with mental health issues a better quality of life.
“The mental illness is still there but the symptoms are being better managed. The person is calm. They can get to work and be productive in society,” said Williams.
Since Williams started working there, 911 calls from the shelter have decreased by 85 percent.
“Since I’ve been there I’ve only called four times but when I first got there, there were calls coming in 3-4 times a day,” said Williams.
She says she hopes that more shelters around the country will see the success of their program and form similar partnerships to help treat the homeless.