Filling in the Gaps

September 14, 2023

oxygenation.jpgNurse Perkins administers a blood oxygenation test to Jack MarshallDOWNIEVILLE — Tuesday’s lunch hosted by the Golden Rays at the Community Hall proved to be another happening event, with nearly 50 either in attendance or getting meals to go. The Messenger will write an in-depth article in the future about the weekly senior lunch and the community volunteers making this meal and fun time possible. But for now, the spotlight will shine on Sierra County’s Public Health Department Nurse Deborah Perkins’ “Wonder Woman” efforts to fill in the gaps and meet the needs of all ages across Sierra County.

Between gobbling up chili dogs and fruit salad, seniors awaited their turn to sit with Perkins at the Senior Centers Blood Pressure Clinic table she and Health Assistant III Theresa Norman set up. Perkins hoped to report good blood pressure and oxygenation numbers to all who took a moment to get checked out by this free service. Removing the blood pressure cuff from visiting seniors resulted in a particularly warming sound; the ripping of velcro indicating another medical need met for a local.

Besides providing a variety of immunization clinics for seniors and the community (stay tuned for future dates), Perkins is busy getting kids caught up on their required vaccinations to attend school and administering tuberculosis (TB) tests for adult students enrolled in the next EMT course, and writing health updates for the Sierra Booster and The Messenger. Going above and beyond in her duties, her latest endeavor, offering a beacon of hope to seniors, falls under the umbrella of the Senior Outreach Nurse Program. As Perkins explains, the goal is to “keep people in their homes as long as safely possible.”

The Senior Outreach Nurse program has roughly ten clients under Perkins who now have access to help with understanding their medications, avoiding dehydration, obtaining various risk assessments (the prevention of falls, slips, and trips is a great example), pill organizers, transportation to physician appointments, pharmacies, grocery shopping, and more. With Perkins currently being the only nurse facilitating this program, her efforts certainly qualify her for superhero status, as surely prior to this program, a plethora of needs for the elderly were unmet. While some need In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers to remain in their homes, and the county continually lacks IHSS workers, some simply need periodic help. The Senior Outreach Nurse program fills in the gaps of both groups of seniors. According to Interim Public Health Director Rhonda Grandi, Sierra County has 892 people over the age of 65. Funding for this overdue and needed help comes from a California Strengthening Public Health Infrastructure grant, through which the county received $574,667 over five years.

Those interested in learning more about the Senior Outreach Nurse program’s services or interested in helping Perkins answer the call on a volunteer or paid basis (there is plenty to do even without nursing credentials) should contact Deborah Perkins, RN, at or by calling (530) 993-6705.

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