Posted by Sharon Schendel on Oct 19, 2019
Pete and Jan Grossnickle with Karin and Jim Davies
Jan Grossnickle, our speaker at the October 17, 2019 meeting, has been a RN for over 50 years.  She said that she’s done all kinds of nursing, but her current position with the Community Christian Service Agency (CCSA) has been her favorite.
San Diego County has the fourth largest homeless population in the nation. The latest Regional Task Force Survey on the Homeless found that over 8,000 individuals in the County were homeless and of these, nearly 4,500 were classified as unsheltered. High rents and stagnant wages in particular have contributed to the increase in the homeless population in our region over the past decade. The fastest growing sector of this population is the elderly, many of whom lost savings in the 2008 recession and are unable to work or have difficulty finding work.
Jan said that the homeless population is more likely to have chronic illness than the general population, and access to healthcare for these individuals is particularly challenging.  She works with CCSA, which was founded in 1972 by a group of churches to serve low income individuals living in the San Diego region. In 2018, the CCSA provided assistance for over 30,00 clients and distributed over $1 million in food as well as over 60,000 clothing items. CCSA has two facilities in Pacific Beach and Claremont. Both sites provide food, clothing and referrals to social service agencies.  The Pacific Beach site, where Jan works, also houses a Nurse’s Clinic where clients can be assessed, receive first aid, medical referrals and other support.
Jan and her colleagues at the CCSA Pacific Beach branch are one part nurse, one part social worker and one part cheerleader. In all interaction with their clients, the CCSA nurses exude respect, which can counteract one of the largest problems of the homeless: feeling isolated.
Clients can receive help with problem solving and goal setting, advocacy with health care providers, assistance in applying for benefits and health insurance program enrollment, but most of all, Jan and the other CCSA nurses provide hugs and reassurance that are critical for the clients to transition to independence and self-sufficiency.