Woman’s Hosts Poverty Simulation for Hospital Staff

March 19, 2019

Designed to help healthcare workers understand the challenges of families in poverty

What if you only had $10 a day to meet your family's basic needs? That’s reality for some Louisiana residents, but it’s nearly impossible for most people to comprehend. On Friday, March 22, 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion on Woman’s Campus, Woman’s will host a simulation of the real-life struggles of patients who are living in poverty. In partnership with the Baton Rouge Junior League, Capital Area United Way, LSU School of Social Work, Hope Ministries and FranU, the goal is to cultivate a better understanding of the challenges of poverty. Over 100 healthcare workers will be participating.

“No simulation can provide a full picture; however, this experience will allow our employees to walk in the shoes of an impoverished person and come face to face with how complex and interconnected issues of poverty really are,” explains Laurie Schulenberg, MPA/HCA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Woman’s Director of Educational Services. “With a greater awareness of the impact of poverty and its obstacles, our staff can more effectively work with patients.”

According to 2018 statistics by the United States Census Bureau, Louisiana’s poverty is at 19.7 percent; with 26.0 percent of those living under the poverty line in Baton Rouge (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/batonrougecitylouisiana,la/PST045218). More than one in six Louisiana households are deemed “food insecure,” meaning those households struggle sometimes to pay for enough food to maintain a consistent, healthy life. The national poverty rate is 12.3 percent. The average family of four living in poverty makes $25,465 a year (https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-thresholds.html).

What is a Poverty Simulation?

This immersive experience will replicate aspects of what it is like to live in poverty for one month. During the three-hour simulation, participants from Woman’s, Junior League, HOPE Ministries and FranU will be given various scenarios and have to find a way to provide shelter and basic necessities on a limited budget. Each scenario will last 15 minutes and they will interact with individuals playing the roles of bill collectors, job interviewers, grocers, police officers, pawnbrokers, teachers and more. Scenarios will include:

  • A single parent with limited resources and no transportation who must find a way to get to work and get their child to daycare.
  • An elderly person who must find a way to pay for both utilities and medication.
  • A young adult who must care for siblings while their parent is incarcerated.

The poverty simulation is funded by Woman’s G.R.A.C.E. program, Guiding Recovery and Creating Empowerment, for pregnant women with opioid addiction. The G.R.A.C.E. program is funded by United Health Foundation’s three-year, $1.2 million grant. G.R.A.C.E. works with physicians, social service agencies, hospitals, mental health agencies, the legal system and other community partners to identify expectant mothers affected by opioid misuse, and connects them to the appropriate resources to aid in their care and recovery.

Learn more to understand the challenges of families living in poverty. 

This class is open to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of what life in poverty is like. Some other examples of groups who could benefit include:

  • Healthcare
  • Non-Profits
  • Educators
  • Government employees
  • Students
  • Community organizations

Register now to attend an upcoming Poverty Simulation class »