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Dec. 21, 2016

Rhonda Conner-Warren: Flint – a year of reflection

Dec. 21, 2016

Rhonda Conner-Warren, who grew up in Flint, is an assistant professor of health programs in the MSU College of Nursing and a pediatric nurse practitioner.

The Flint Water Crisis is far from over. As we provide ongoing health fairs in the community, we uncover new health concerns – injuries from carrying heavy water, lack of knowledge about home filter maintenance and communities that still do not know about free health services available to them.

These additional disparities are concerning.

Hispanic members of the Flint community, even for those who are documented immigrants/citizens, are not aware of the health care services available to them.  Several of our volunteers have not been tested for lead because they are too busy caring for others. These discoveries only motivate me to do more. To be there. And, to keep giving my nursing talents to the community that raised me up.

As 2016 comes to an end, I reflect on the health screenings we have provided to Flint families. Through the care we have provided, we detected one to three high lead levels in adults and children for every 30-65 people tested. The oldest adult was 77 years old. After an interview with the EPA we found she had not changed her water filter since it was installed. She was not aware that the water filter cartridge needed to be changed. She thought she was taking the necessary steps – and yet, this one detail still makes her vulnerable and puts her at risk.

To date, efforts led by MSU College of Nursing have screened and counseled 10,000 citizens, provided $54,000 in produce and $9,000 in dental care; these numbers are evidence of the collective power that arises from community-wide cooperation. Students of both undergraduate and graduate programs, faculty, alumni and friends of Michigan State University have selflessly devoted their time and resources to help the city of Flint.

We have spent an innumerable amount of hours organizing and executing relief events, but the work is far from done. The crisis may no longer be receiving the national attention it once was, but Flint’s residents are still dealing with its effects.

I will devote my time. I will speak out. I will listen. I will care. I will act to make a difference.  

We have to ask ourselves: What have you done? Or what have you given? Will you still be there in 2017? I know I will!


To get involved with the next health fair, email Rhonda Conner-Warren.

Faculty Voice: You can trust that I will

Related: Improving educational opportunities for students in the city of Flint