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UW-Eau Claire Nursing Instructor in Marshfield Recognized with Volunteer Service Award

RELEASED: Feb. 3, 2006

Linda DuffyEAU CLAIRE — The board of directors of the Occupational Development Center in Marshfield recently recognized University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member Linda Duffy with their Melsen Volunteer Award. The award recognizes individuals whose volunteer service has made a significant impact on the people served at the ODC.

The ODC in Marshfield holds national accreditation by the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission for its worksite program, which provides meaningful employment opportunities for people with physical, development, emotional or social disabilities. The center provides short-term job skills training for those able to move into jobs within the community, as well as long-term employment for with more severe disabilities.

Four years ago, Duffy, a clinical instructor in Nursing Systems at the UW-Eau Claire College of Nursing's Marshfield site, contacted a staff member at the ODC to see if she and her senior nursing students could provide any services for ODC clients. The nursing students were taking a class that looks at emerging health care interventions and various wellness activities.

Since clients at the center are often engaged in work that involves repetitive movement, Duffy and her students began by offering hand massage and seated upper back massage.

"Management at ODC was supportive," said Duffy. "They encouraged clients and staff to take time during the workday for this activity. We transformed a conference room into a wellness center with relaxing music, subdued lighting and décor modifications."

The clients and staff were so delighted with the 60 individual sessions provided, they asked Duffy and her students if they could accommodate another 20 sessions for the next semester. Since then, Duffy and her students have continued to expand their offerings.

Duffy said that Sue Rau, a counselor aide/trainer at ODC and a 1987 business administration graduate of UW-Eau Claire, was particularly excited about working with Duffy and the students from her alma mater. Rau had the idea of offering a "Ladies Night Out" for female clients and family members that would include, in addition to the massage sessions, presentations on wellness, health, and personal care from other resource people in the community. The event was so successful that it has become an annual event. And in February the student nurses now do blood pressure screening for the clients and staff as part of the American Heart Association Heart Awareness Campaign.

"It was also Sue's idea to add a walking path for the ODC clients, and in the fall of 2005, we developed an initial plan for a walking path with six educational stations; plans call for the path to be constructed on land adjacent to the ODC building and also link to the Marshfield citywide path system," said Duffy, noting that three UW-Eau Claire students — Dave Schauer, Marshfield; Deb Yaron, Medford/Mosinee; and Catlin Swartz, Marshfield/Port Edwards — were team leaders for the project, with five other students assisting.

When notified about her selection for the award, Duffy tried to protest that she didn't consider herself a true volunteer since she was serving in her role as a nursing instructor, but the people at the ODC were adamant about her selection, citing the significant positive impact that the various wellness activities have had on their clients.

"I felt very honored to receive that award," said Duffy, but noted that she also wanted to give credit to Rau and the rest of the staff at ODC.

"It was Sue's vision of the potential to add wellness activities as another way to enrich the lives of those with disabilities that made our collaboration possible, and she has expanded those activities with other initiatives," said Duffy. "The staff at the ODC is truly inspiring — very patient, caring and motivating for the clients. I am grateful to have this community partnership between UW-Eau Claire and the ODC in Marshfield, and I look forward to expanding our involvement in coming semesters."

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NW

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