The Zeta Eta Chapter of Chi Eta Phi, Incorporated has been working tirelessly throughout the community to help provide health education and meet the medical needs of underserved populations, particularly in Southeast Fort Wayne. Chi Eta Phi is a nursing sorority that was started in 1932 in Washington, D.C. by 12 nurses (called the 12 Jewels) at a time when Black nurses weren’t allowed to join a sorority. As a local chapter with 24 active members who are all licensed registered nurses, the bulk of its work focuses on disease prevention and health promotion, including education and screening for hypertension and cancer, sickle cell disease awareness, infant mortality, and safe sleep. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, getting people vaccinated became a priority. The St. Joe Foundation, in partnership with the Foellinger Foundation, awarded the sorority $4,090 in vaccination assistance funds to help with those efforts.
Phyllis Bragg is the chapter’s assistant chair for programs and the immediate past president. “Because there’s such a healthcare disparity when it comes to underserved populations, 46806 has always been our target area when it comes to any type of healthcare whether it’s diabetes, hypertension, safe sleep, and now COVID,” says Bragg. During this year, the sorority has been part of the HealthVisions task force to get people vaccinated; worked with Shepherd’s Hand Community Outreach Center to do safe sleep education and provide free cribettes and diapers; collaborated with the African American Healthcare Alliance to provide 312 physicals to Metro Youth Sports football players and cheerleaders and provide asthma and epilepsy education to its coaches; taken part in the state’s Black Barbershop Health Initiative; and provided COVID, safe sleep, hypertension, and diabetes information and sleep demonstrations during this year’s Juneteenth celebration at McMillen Park. In addition to all of that, the sorority continues to work with Parkview to help get more people vaccinated.
“The plan is still to do work on COVID throughout the rest of the year and possibly beyond, working with Parkview on pop-up clinics,” says Bragg. “The goal is to have clinics set up continuously Southeast, particularly in the area around the Urban League and the Renaissance YMCA.”
Bragg retired from the VA in November of 2020, but her service to others has never stopped. “Even while I was in nursing school, I always told myself that I wanted to give back to the community and I’ve stuck with that promise. I’m passionate about helping my community and the underserved.”