Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Yo tengo un Amigo que me Ama"

"In my lifetime I have experienced few days that I recall as life changing. Monday, March 19, 2012 was a day I will always remember and be forever grateful. The day, location, and mission affected me profoundly and are permanently engraved on my heart. I was a member of a team whose mission was to serve remote villages in central Honduras. Our team representing the Friends of Barnabas Foundation consisted of fourteen North Americans visiting for a week and Central Americans who call Honduras home. We were a mountain medical team. We serve by providing medical services but most importantly we serve with heart.  A team working together to care, teach, and support. We traveled to select communities in need to provide primary and preventative healthcare. The communities welcomed us graciously into their lives, homes, schools, and churches. We set up stations which included anti-parasite, vitamin A, general medicine, eye, and dental. Our medical team was greeted at our first mountain village with a large sign that said “Welcome American Medical Team”. We were not only welcomed; we were embraced by the villagers. With great pride, they smiled, had children present pledges and song, hugged us warmly, feed us, prayed for us, and enriched our lives!  While we were traveling to the first village, we learned a worship song in Spanish. In each village after introductions were made and details of the clinic explained we sang “Yo tengo un Amigo que me Ama” (I have a friend who loves me..His name is Jesus) as a team. Everyone joined in! What a beautiful way to start the day with our newest family members! 

I arrived in Honduras without expectations. Less than three years ago, I completed a career change and became an RN. My desire for my first medical mission experience was to listen, learn, and serve. On Sunday, we prepared the supplies and inventory required for Monday. This preparation sparked a mixture of feelings that I cannot adequately describe: joy, fear, excitement, and the awareness of much needed grace. On Monday morning we left early to provide care to our first village. The drive was beautiful and breath-taking. When I say breath-taking, I don’t just mean the vistas but the road or lack thereof! Our road ended in the heart of the village. I looked out of the window of our trusty school bus and saw hundreds of people smiling and waving.  Off we went to set up our stations! I was assigned to the general medical team. I was supported and encouraged by a nurse who has served on many previous mountain medical teams. She graciously allowed me to set up my station next to her so I could ask questions and learn as I watched her serve the community. My job was to apply nursing skills to access, listen, and provide care. In the US, I provide care to adults who have had general and orthopedic surgery but in Honduras I was to serve all ages. The day was filled with miracles. I was amazed at how a group of virtual strangers became a close team. A team who served with strength and joy among new people, culture, and surroundings. One of the first patients I met was an elderly woman, almost ninety. This woman was amazing! The translator communicated what medical concerns she had but the most important message she wanted to share with me was that she had great faith. She said she knew God would provide healing in her village today and she wanted to pray for me and our team. As she lives alone with no income, she lives her life with the certainty of God’s power, love, and provision. A senora I will never forget.  

Each day we visited a different village. We became faster at set up but nothing was routine. Greeting each person, family, and village was like a breath of life, each encounter remarkable and unforgettable.  We were fortunate to provide care to everyone requesting medical attention in each village. At the end of the week, the medical clinic team had served 998 patients. Many had never seen a healthcare professional. As a team we identified concerns in children that would require additional care. The Friends of Barnabas organization will continue to follow and support patients and communities in need. The generous, organized, and ongoing care provided by the organization greatly increases the value of our mission. We may have provided a drop of service but our drop starts the ripple of hope, love, and care sustained and nourished by many.

My career as a nurse pales in description to my experience as healthcare volunteer. I arrived with a heart to serve and was humbled by the great love and acceptance I received. It was a privilege to explore a new country, fall in love with its people, and learn. 

How does this affect life now? If I could I would be sending this note from Honduras! I count the minutes to return but while I wait my heart to serve has been refreshed and renewed. I am a nurse. I am blessed with the opportunity to serve, encourage, teach, and provide hope daily. As wonderful as it was to serve villages in Honduras, where I am right now matters. I am thankful for One Nurse at a Time for choosing to compassionately serve people and provide much needed resources both financial and informational. The seeds they plant and nurture bring life to lasting change. "

Robin Phillips, RN

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Nine Days I Spent in Haiti Changed My Life!

Beth Langlais, RN traveled with Christian Medical and Dental Association to Haiti March 17 - 25, 2012.  Here is her story: 

"The nine days I spent in Haiti completely changed my life. I went with a team of general physicians, dentists, a pediatrician, chiropractor, physical therapist, pharmacist, and opthalmologist.  In total, there were 34 volunteers. We also partnered with a local Haitian physician and dentist. We set up clinics in a school and church in St. Marc. I worked primarily in triage, routing patients to the proper medical personnel for treatment. I also learned a few Creole phrases by the end of the week.  Over a period of five days, we treated over 1,500 patients. We primarily treated women, children, and the elderly. I saw a lot of skin infections, wound infections, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, malnutrition in children, gastro-intestinal issues, and blindness. We also treated several patients with active TB.

I most enjoyed working in triage. It was extremely stressful and exhausting, but it was where I had the most contact with the Haitian people. I learned the Haitian people are very kind and that they desperately need access to adequate medical services. I work in labor and delivery in Seattle and in Haiti, I had to use nursing skills that I had not performed in seven years (since I graduated nursing school). The trip really opened my eyes to the grim reality of healthcare services in the developing world. The conditions Haitians live in are appalling. Most people had no access to running water and proper sanitation. Garbage and rubble overflow in the streets. Many of the patients we treated were living in tents or crudely manufactured shanty homes and walked miles to the clinic. Most people were very nice and appreciative of the care we provided, even though they often had to wait in line for several hours to be treated and we weren’t always able to provide the services they wanted.

The hardest part was when we had to turn people away that needed treatment. We were forced to close early two days because the crowd outside they clinic rioted and tried to break down the door. We also saw patients who needed care that was beyond our capabilities, such as severe gangrene and advanced cancer. It was incredibly difficult to deal with not being able to treat them effectively and to provide the advanced care they needed. It broke my heart. I worked with one three-year old boy who had a severe eye infection. His eyes were extremely swollen and full of pus. We were unable to lay him down flat to examine him fully, because the pressure in his head was too great. The Haitian people had pushed him to the front of the line so that he could be treated first. We were able to give his mother antibiotic eye drops, but he most likely needed surgery to have both eyes removed. We provided his mother with money and transportation to Port-au-Prince so that he could be treated properly. I will never forget his face or the sound of his cries.

This medical mission truly impacted my life. I loved the time I spent in Haiti and working with the Haitian people. I can’t wait to go back and do more work there. The trip confirmed my desire to work in international nursing. I plan to participate in several trips a year from this point on in my life. I would never have been able to experience this trip if I had not received the scholarship from One Nurse At a Time. I am so grateful and thankful for the opportunity I had to travel to Haiti."

Beth Langlais, RN

Bethany Langlais is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Seattle Pacific University. She has been working in labor and delivery for seven years. This June, Beth will complete her Master of Nursing degree, with an emphasis on global health, from the University of Washington, Bothell. She plans to work in the field of global health and pursue her desire to help improve the health of women and children worldwide. Bethany has volunteered on medical trips to New York and Costa Rica while in nursing school, but Haiti was her first international trip as an RN. She is active locally and has volunteered in her community working with local youth as a mentor and healthy living coach. Bethany's passions include the outdoors, running, travel, and caring for pregnant women.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Allison Godchaux, FNP heads to Ecuador!

Allison Godchaux is preparing to leave for Bahia de la Caraquez, Ecuador with Healing the Children. The group will be performing an estimated 100+ pediatric surgeries. Because Allison is bilingual, she plans on working between operating rooms, assisting with what is needed, troubleshooting problems as they occur, and overseeing the recovery room.

Allison Godchaux is a family nurse practitioner, in Kansas, at la Clinica Medica, and LifeWorks Wellness Center.  She received her Master’s of Nursing degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center,  Bachelor’s of Nursing degree at California State University, Sacramento.   She enjoys her family, outdoor activities, and bicycling.   Every year she rides her bicycle 150-180 miles, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Allison has been part of a project vaccinating cats and dogs against rabies in Ecuador, with Los Amigos de las Americas;  worked in an orphanage in Mexico,  with Los Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos;  and worked in Ecuador, with Healing the Children, as a recovery room nurse for children receiving cleft lip and cleft palate repair.  
Allison has served in the United States Naval Reserve for 13 years as a Hospital Corpsman, with the Fleet Marine Force, and Naval Cargo Battalions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mary Hogan, RN preparing to leave for Africa

Mary Hogan, RN will be traveling to Kenya with the organization, Mission of Mercy, May 4 - 13. Mission of Mercy is a child sponsorship organization helping to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children in poverty stricken areas of the world.  Through their ministry programs, children receive food, education, medical aid and hope in the name of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the trip is to raise up and train a new group of health care workers to continue medical care for children who need it. The health care worker program was developed to fill a crucial void that is left when a medical mercy team departs. Health care workers have helped identify and treat chicken pox outbreaks, check on children who need continued care, and respond to acute needs in case of emergency.  Mary states, "I believe the impact of this mission will be exceptional and lasting. To equip leaders in this area with education and knowledge to be able to be medically able to care for children when they are left by themselves is a huge advantage to keeping children healthy."

Mary Hogan graduated with her nursing degree from Wake Technical Community College in 2003. During nursing school she worked as a nurses aide on mother-baby and post partum unit.  After graduation Mary worked on a medical teaching unit, which was a combination Medical, Renal, Urology and Surgical floor. During her 10 years in this department, Mary’s duties included taking a patient assignment, precepting new nurses and nursing students, and working as a charge nurse. In January of 2011, Mary moved to a Medical-Surgical-Oncology floor at Duke Medicine and is now a certified chemo nurse. She continues in a leadership role as preceptor and charge nurse.  With her oncology experience, she has developed an interest in end of life/hospice care. Mary is currently pursuing her Bachelors degree with the goal of obtaining a Masters degree.  With  a heart for teaching, she plans to teach nursing in the classroom and clinical setting.  Outside of work, Mary enjoys traveling, hiking, gardening, reading and spending time with family.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

National Volunteer Week

Happy National Volunteer Week to all the wonderful people who have worked with us at One Nurse At A Time!  Sue and I could never have imagined our little idea for helping nurses would become so big, so fast!  Sue and I would also like to express our deepest gratitude to all of you who have helped us along the way.  It is because of all of you - friends, family, colleagues, and strangers - that we have been able to reach a multitude of nurses and by extension of these nurses, thousands of people in desperate need of medical care!  We are all, in essence, that one drop of water that creates a ripple effect!  Thank you for helping us put "more nurse" out into the world!

Sue Averill and Staci Kelley
Co-Founders of One Nurse At A Time

If you would like to find out more about volunteer opportunities at One Nurse At A Time, please check our website at

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"I Expect to Receive So Much More Than I Ever Could Have Given"

Emily Davis, RN will be traveling with the organization MEDICO to  Honduras and working with a medical team that sets up medical clinics in remote villages to treat the local people.  Emily's team will be gone Saturday April 14 - Saturday, April 21. Emily also just returned from a trip to Haiti with a different organization. In Emily's scholarship application, Letter of Intent , she expressed: "I expect I will fall in love with two new countries, their people, and cultures.  I expect I will be exhausted, physically and emotionally, yet feel that I received so much more than I ever could have given.  I expect that these will not be the last of my volunteering for these organizations and countries.  I very much look forward to sharing my experiences with family, friends, and coworkers and encourage them to volunteer as well. I can only hope that I am able to have an impact in these two countries and for all the people that I will help provide health care to.  I know I will be impacted for life and won't forget a moment of either mission. Personally, I will be impacted by all the people I will meet along the way, especially the children.  There's just something special and meaningful about meeting people from other countries that I would have never have met otherwise without having participated on these missions.  I'm sure I will be impacted professionally by learning how to provide nursing care without all the modern day conveniences of a large teaching hospital while being out of my comfort zone."

Emily has known since she was thirteen that she wanted to be a nurse.  It's now been almost 10 years since her dream came true.  After graduating from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, OH with her BSN, Emily has spent her entire nursing care in pediatrics but in very different avenues.  She spent almost eight years working in a pediatric intensive care unit and the past four summers working at a camp for children with terminal, life-threatening, and/or chronic illnesses.  Volunteering has always been such a huge part of Emily's life.  Providing international nursing care has been on her "bucket list" for some time and now she's able to combine her love of nursing and her desire to travel together to help those in need.  Emily has thus far volunteered in the USA, Ecuador, Haiti, and Honduras.  Emily is excited to see what the future has in store for her and her nursing career.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Celebrate World Health Day Saturday!

Good health adds life to years - photo gallery

Ageing and health is the theme of this year's World Health Day. The slogan of the day is "Good health adds life to years".
Over the past century life expectancy has increased dramatically and the world will soon have more older people than children. Older men and women can lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities. This photo gallery, with images from around the world, challenges current stereotypes older people have to grapple with.
Helmut Wirz discovered a passion for bungee-jumping at the age of 75.
Karsten Thormaehlen

Helmut Wirz, retired pharmacist

Jumping head first from high altitudes is 87-year old Helmut Wirz's passion. The former pharmacist discovered bungee-jumping at the age of 75. "When I’m standing up there,
I feel completely calm“, he says, despite the fact that he is only secured by a rubber - band fixed to his legs. Helmut held the record as the oldest bungee jumper in the world for many years and is not planning to switch to playing chess or bowling any time soon.

Mirta Nordet dances several times a month to keep healthy.
Karsten Thormaehlen

Mirtha Nordet, retired ophthalmologist

Mirtha Nordet and her teenage grandson Damian are very close. When his 69-year-old grandmother offered to teach him his first salsa steps, Damian immediately said yes.
"I want my grandchildren to learn as much as possible about the culture and traditions of my home country Cuba," says the retired ophthalmologist, who goes dancing several times a month. "Salsa is a kind of liberation for me. It gives me energy and I stop thinking," she enthuses. Despite some recent back problems, Mirtha hopes to go on dancing long into the future.

Barton and Namale, with their grandson
HelpAge International/Antonio Olmos

Barton, 76, brickmaker

Barton and Namale find it hard to make ends meet. The couple looks after their oldest son, who is too sick to work, as well as his two small children. There is no way 76-year-old Barton can even dream of retiring. He used to run a chicken business, but has now turned to making and selling bricks. "Rising food prices have affected us all. Before, we used to be able to afford to eat plantains but now all we have is maize meal," the old man sighs. "If I could just get another loan or a pension, I would start the chicken business again, and hire someone to help me."

Being able to walk long distances is necessary for Maximiliana to continue to earn a living as a shepherd.
HelpAge International/Antonio Olmos

Maximiliana, 65, shepherd

Maximiliana has been herding sheep and goats since she was a small child. But much has changed in the past 60 years. When she was young, grass was plentiful. Now she has to walk 15 kilometers across the parched pastures of the high Peruvian Andes to find enough grazing for her animals. Maximiliana and her husband recently joined a senior citizens' club where they help to work communal fields. This supplements their diet and income. "I still love walking in the mountains with the animals", 65-year old Maximiliana says, "but I’ll need to find some other way to earn money because I won’t be able to keep doing this forever."

Older people can prove very resilient following natural hazards such as earthquakes.
WHO/T. Halvari

Older people in emergency situations

Emergency situations are increasing worldwide and older people are one of the most seriously affected groups. The elderly may be particularly vulnerable when security breaks down, and also to natural hazards such as floods, drought, and earthquakes. Older people can often, however, prove very resilient. Their knowledge of their community, experience from past events, and the position of respect they often command within families and communities make them valuable resources that can be drawn upon. It is important for those developing health care policies and guidelines to consider older people's needs and involve older people in both planning and implementing services in an emergency.

China is one of the most rapidly ageing countries in Asia
HelpAge International/Wang Jing

Older people in cities

Population ageing and urbanization are two global trends that pose major challenges to governments. As cities grow, the proportion of residents aged 60 years and over is increasing. China is one of the most rapidly ageing countries in Asia. According to the 2010 census, almost 50% of the Chinese population lives in urban areas. An ageing society in which more people suffer from chronic disease and disability means that a reduced workforce has to look after more pensioners and pay for soaring health care costs. The Government has started to tackle the problems by implementing chronic-disease prevention programmes at the national level and by establishing long-term care delivery systems for the elderly.

City authorities are encouraged to adapt their structures and services such that they are accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities. In China, the China National Committee on Ageing is establishing a programme to make Chinese cities more age-friendly. Pilot sites include Beijing, Qiqihar and Shanghai.