Unique program helps keep people healthy at Winona Community Warming Center

Area temperatures could sink to about 10 degrees below zero Thursday night.

The Winona community warming center is keeping people safe and healthy dyuring the cold weather with a unique program.

The center has teamed up with nursing and health science students and faculty members from Winona State to offer a free health clinic called Bridges Health Winona.

The center says the services are important, especially this time of year.

Lynette Johnson the coordinator for the Winona Community Warming Center said, “It’d be detrimental if the warming center wasn’t here.”

The cold temperatures this time of year, can be life threatening.

“Just imagine how cold you are when you go out to start your car, and then imagine being out there 24/7 and not ever being able to come inside and warm up,” Johnson said

Thatis why the warming center is so vital.

“To be able to offer a safe, warm place, where people can come in and have a warm cup of coffee, have a hot shower- and be indoors with the heat is incredibly important,” Johnson said.

But in addition to keeping people warm, the center is also helping its clients and the rest of the community stay healthy.

“A lot of people don’t have health care or can’t afford to go to a clinic,” Johnson said.

Which is why the center teamed up with Bridges health an organization made up of students and faculty from Winona State University.

Anne Vandeberg a social work faculty member at Winnona State University said, “Our emphasis is on preventative health care and health promotion so we do some basic health screenings, diabetes, blood pressure those kinds of things.”

Vandeberg, who volunteers with both Bridges Health and the warming center, says the program is great because both the students and participants benefit.

Vandeberg said the program is “developing clinical practice sites for students where they can have the opportunity to take what they’re learning out of the classroom and take it into the community, but also find a way to give back to the community,”

Johnson says the program is a great way to help people save some cash and get back on their feet.

“They like to say, ‘Hey I hope I never see you again.’ (laughs) and we feel the same because we hope that this is short term for them just to get back on their feet but we’re here long term if needed,” Johnson said.

The Bridges Health Clinic is on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the warming center and will be running until March.

Thursday will be the first clinic of the year.

Anyone can go to the health clinic but only adults 18 and older can spend the night at the center.

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