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Published in Alumni Publications on June 01, 2012
Kayla Logan
Kayla Logan

Devotion to community health brings nurse back to roots in rural Mississippi

Kayla Logan’s passion for working in the Mississippi Delta was born in the townships of South Africa.

While volunteering at a school and orphanage on the outskirts of Johannesburg in 2006, Logan, an English major at the University of Mississippi, was asked by workers at a local community clinic to help take patients’ blood-pressure readings.

“They taught me how to put an automatic blood pressure cuff on, and that was kind of my first taste of public health,” she said.

The experience inspired her to change her major and pursue a nursing career in community health. Four years later, she graduated with her B.S.N.

Today, on top of a part-time job at the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants and working on her M.S.N., Logan serves as the school nurse for the Mercy Delta Express Project, the grant-funded School of Nursing program she contributed research to as an undergrad.

A graduate of Ridgeland High School, Logan was accepted into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at Ole Miss.

“As part of our graduation requirements, you have to do exploratory research and then a senior thesis,” she said.

Her exploratory research led her to South Africa, where her experiences inspired her to change her major to nursing. After a second visit in 2007, she transferred to UMMC to complete her B.S.N. and to finish her thesis in public health, which is how she connected with Dr. Lisa Haynie, professor of nursing and director of the MDE project.

“You choose your own advisor, and Dr. Haynie was just starting to work on the grant for Mercy Delta Project,” Logan said. “I knew she was doing a lot with public health and community health, and the (W. K.) Kellogg Foundation has a focus in South Africa, so I knew a little about them.”

At the time, Haynie said she was beginning to assess the need for school-based health services in the Delta, and Logan helped her collect data that were used for the grant application.

In collecting data for the grant, Logan worked closely with her classmate, Margaret Hines, also a Barksdale Honors College student. She said Hines’ focus on barriers facing access to care for children complemented her research on the need for school-based clinics.

The classmates graduated in 2010 and both entered the UMHC nursing work force.

Last summer, the School of Nursing was awarded a $450,000 grant to provide health services to students in the South Delta School District and Ripley Blackwell Head Start through the Mercy Delta Express mobile clinic. Included in the grant was funding to hire a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner.

“The first people who came to mind were Kayla and Margaret,” Haynie said.