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KNOXVILLE — UT Knoxville nursing students and faculty, along with Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets, are assisting military nurses by collecting patient care items for injured civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now through Feb. 14, 2008, they will be collecting hospital gowns, slippers, boxers, clothing and shoes for children and adults.

The item drive was suggested by nursing clinical instructor Susan Crawford.

This past July, Crawford joined 30 other nursing educators from around the country in a satellite telephone conversation with Capt. Nikia Marshall, a registered nurse in the U.S. Army, about the work of military nurses in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Marshall, who spent 13 months at a combat support hospital in Afghanistan, described the conditions that medical personnel in the Middle East face and the growing need for patient care items.

Military nurses in Afghanistan and Iraq are well-prepared to treat injured adult soldiers but often find themselves caring for badly injured civilians, including women and children. The hospital where Marshall was stationed kept a ready stock of medical supplies but lacked an adequate supply of comfort items, such as gowns, slippers and boxers, for the general care of civilians.

After hearing Marshall’s stories, Crawford wanted to help the military nurses.

“I thought maybe they’d want some care packages, but none of them asked for one thing for themselves,” said Crawford. “All they wanted was things for their patients.”

When Crawford told her colleagues and students about Marshall and the military nurses in Iraq, many wanted to help. The college’s Student Nursing Association and the ROTC took the lead.

Marshall has visited the college twice now to tell faculty and students firsthand about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq and what is needed most.

Because of the treatment of so many civilians, there is great need for clothes and shoes for small children, books to help with translation, stuffed animals and toys. Other items needed include hospital gowns, boxer shorts, socks and non-skid slippers in child and adult sizes.

“Our patients have had to use sheets as hospital gowns,” Marshall said. “Anything people can do to help will be greatly appreciated, by not only us but by civilians living in these countries.”

Health science books and medical journals also are needed to help American medical personnel educate Iraqi nurses. These military nurses have been trying to teach local nurses basic patient care skills but have few medical reference books or journals to help them.

Drop-off points for these items are located at the Stokely Athletic Center, the College of Nursing, the University Center, TRECS, on-campus residency halls and local hospitals.

Check and money donations also are being accepted. Checks should be made out to “UT College of Nursing – SNA,” and “Operation Healing Hearts” should be written in the memo line. Mail donations to the College of Nursing, Attn: Susan Crawford, 1200 Volunteer Blvd. Knoxville, TN 37996.

For more information on the item drive, contact Crawford at 974-7616.

Susan Crawford, (865) 974-7616,
Kristi Hintz, (865) 974-3993,