By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough/Marlborough – Nurse Leslie Chamberlain, of Marlborough, has her finger on the pulse of both Southborough and Marlborough. She is the resident nurse at the Southborough Senior Center, the public health nurse for the Southborough Board of Health and has worked in the emergency room of Marlborough Hospital for the past 26 years.
Chamberlain earned her registered nursing degree at Northeastern University through its co-op program. As a registered nurse at the Senior Center, she runs clinics on Mondays and Wednesdays, offering information and support to the many seniors who frequent her office. According to Chamberlain, she wears many hats at the Senior Center, often taking care of the psych-social needs of the seniors as well as their physical ones. More than anything else, though, she has come to cherish the strong relationships she has built with the seniors who have become like family to her.
“We have one gentleman in his 90s and every day when he comes, we talk. He is the oldest senior who comes to the center, and he just likes to come and talk,” Chamberlain said. “I'se been known to say that I have 100-plus grandparents.”
Chamberlain oversees a program that makes durable medial equipment (shower chairs, canes, walkers, crutches, incontinence products and wheel chairs) available through the center for seniors to use as needed. Most of the items are donated by seniors who no longer need them or by the families of people who have passed away. The center has also purchased transfer chairs for seniors to borrow and return. All available items are listed in “The Southborough Senior Sensation,” a publication put out every two months by the Senior Center that reaches 1,200 local seniors.
In addition, she is passionate about making sure that every older Southborough resident has a magnetic emergency medical packet on his/her refrigerator. Any person in need of a packet is welcome to pick one up at Chamberlain's office at the Southborough Senior Center, 9 Cordaville Road.
As public health nurse for the Board of Health (she maintains the Senior Center office for both jobs) Chamberlain helps locate the vulnerable senior population in Southborough who are then mapped on a GPS system by the town engineer. This form of emergency preparedness allows officials to tend to the needs of the elderly in a timely manner should an emergency warrant it. Most recently, during Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm, the procedure was implemented and all seniors were checked on and, if necessary, transported to the town shelter.
Communicable disease surveillance is another facet of Chamberlain's job. Every case has to be reported to Department of Public Health in Boston by the local laboratories. The Department of Public Health, in turn, sends the information to Chamberlain, who performs a case investigation. The process is used to make sure people are being properly treated and then monitored when re-entering the community (when healthy) to avoid outbreaks.
“One of the physician board members said to me,” Chamberlain recalled, “that “when everything is fine, you know that public health is working.””
Also, Chamberlain is committed to making sure that the people she serves are informed, represented and well taken care of. She checks up on residents of both Southborough and Marlborough. From the Southborough seniors and the general population of Southborough to the countless patients who walk through the doors of Marlborough Hospital, Chamberlain does her best to keep everyone healthy and informed.