Nurse, church working to raise awareness of health care initiatives

Published 12:42 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

The day Dorris Viltz stood in front of the congregation at Eastern Star Missionary Baptist Church, her voice was shaking as she spoke.

It wasn’t something she planned on doing, but instead felt led to do.

“I stood up in church and told them I want to be used by the Lord in church,” Viltz said. “I’m so blessed that God gave me a big mouth to open up and tell the church I want to be used.”

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Viltz, 73, has been a registered nurse for 50 years, the last 29 of which she’s worked at Lakeview Elementary School. But after joining her church several years ago, she saw an opportunity for community education.

“I saw a need for more health awareness,” she said. “We’re getting doctors to come teach about hypertension, stroke, everything we can. So far it’s looking good with prospects. I’ll be teaching some, of course.”

When she stood in front of her fellow church members, she asked for suggestions or topics they might want to be educated on.

“Everyone started coming up to me,” she said. “I’ve asked members to come up and I’ll find the resources.”

The start is a blood drive May 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church, located at 548 15th St. in Port Arthur.

“We never get enough blood,” Viltz said. “We have people with injuries, anemia and sickle cell disease. The blood drive is our initial start.”

Rev. Vester Thompson said Viltz is helping bring awareness to everyone.

“I think basically one of the biggest things for all of us is that we suffer from a lack of knowledge,” he said. “And sometimes when we don’t understand some things, we fear them. For those of us who trust in God or believe in God, this is just another avenue for service.”

Another initiative on Vilz’s list is Stop the Bleed courses.

“We have drive-by shootings, church shootings, school shootings,” she said. “We have to find out how to help without getting in harm’s way.”

Stop the Bleed is a national campaign aimed at training everyday people to act as a first responder until one arrives on scene.

It’s a program being taught more often locally, with the Port Arthur Fire Department teaching the first of several free community CPR and Stop the Bleed courses April 14.

With May being National Stroke Awareness Month, Viltz hopes to soon bring in related education such as teaching protocol in the event someone begins having seizures.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the second worldwide cause of death and the leading cause of disability.

“God is blessing me,” she said. “He opened the door and I’m just working with it.”

And, Thompson said, it’s also a blessing on the community.

“It’s mainly about service, and this is one of the services that He wants us to provide for those who we come in contact with on a daily basis,” he said.