In the fall of 2012, seven nurses and advanced practice nurses from different parts of the United States as well as Canada, reached out to One Nurse At A Time (One Nurse), an organization that educates, enables and empowers volunteer nurses to deliver healthcare to people in medically under-served communities around the world. Each had questions about volunteering in women’s health care. All wanted to volunteer in the global arena. Sue Averill, Co-Founder and President of One Nurse, met with the nurses and found that several of them had read the book, "Half the Sky", by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, while others had seen the PBS documentary by the same name. Because of it, they were all inspired to help improve women’s health around the world. They began to ask, "How I can make a difference – large or small? How can nurses affect a community, or address an issue, one person at a time?"
Located in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland is an unrecognized, self-declared state. Women of the country struggle to receive equal rights and healthcare services due to gender inequalities, weakened infrastructure, lack of education, poor literacy rates, and limited access to the services that do exist. The work being done by a nurse/midwife, Edna Adan, in Hegesia, Somaliland, particularly resonated with this group of nurses. The idea for Nurses for Edna was born and the group began planning a medical mission to Hargesia where these nurses would volunteer in the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.
After retiring as a senior United Nations diplomat where she'd campaigned for women's and children's health, Edna Adan could have chosen to have a comfortable life in London or Paris or New York. That's what most people would have done, but not Edna. A comfortable, sedate, retired life was as far from her dream as imaginable. Instead, Edna cashed in her pension, sold her Mercedes and her jewelry to build a hospital in her home town of Hargesia, Somaliland. Her mission was to provide safe deliveries for women who were far too often dying in childbirth.
The region had some of the worst maternal infant mortality rates in the world. Edna wanted to change that. She asked for land in the heart of the city. The government offered her only a trash heap that had been the appointed location for executions during the recent civil war, but Edna readily accepted the land. Over the next decade, while living in the hospital as it was slowly being built, Edna watched her dream come true. The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital officially opened on March 9, 2002.
Last year, thanks to the hospital’s own doctors, and with support from visiting surgeons from the USA, Australia and UK, 1,057 babies were delivered, including 166 C-sections. In addition, over 700 major and minor operations were completed. For this great work to continue, Edna states that the Hospital’s most pressing need is for professionals to help support new doctors and nurses in training.
Nurses for Edna wrote up a proposal and submitted it to the board of One Nurse. The board voted unanimously to support the nurses organizationally, including financially. One Nurse then forwarded their proposal to Barco’s Nightingale’s Foundation, another non-profit organization that serves to advance the nursing profession and honor nurses who devote their lives to serving the community. Barco’s Nightingales Foundation agreed to sponsor four nurses for the initial Nurses for Edna medical mission, which will occur in August and September of this year. “This collaboration with Barco’s Nightingales Foundation transforms the positive impact of individual nurses multifold. Together we are able to serve as the launch pad to attend to healthcare needs of one of the most medically under-served populations in the world: the women of Somaliland,” said Sue Averill, President, One Nurse.
Edna has expressed that her greatest present need is for teaching. She has asked this medical mission team to teach courses in Basic First Aid and General Physical Assessment this year, as well as share nursing practice and skills on the hospital floors while supervising student nurses.
For their first medical mission The Nurses for Edna team plans to hold educational seminars for midwifery students at the hospital, as well as equip staff and students with critical resources including DVDs, books, writing utensils, stethoscopes, and other general nursing supplies. Collaborating with hospital founder Edna Adan, the nurses participating in the trip will identify the needs of the hospital and the women it serves, and establish goals and a plan to achieve them.
After learning about the issues women and girls face across the globe, Nurses for Edna is joining the movement to empower and uplift women and prove that everyone can make a difference. Nurses for Edna hopes to empower the community's local nurses and build a lasting relationship with the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, as well as create a pathway for future volunteer nurses to offer their skills in Hargesia.
Those nurses participating in the first mission include:
- Wanda Chestnut, RN, DHSc, HIV/AID Specialist from Glen Dale, MD. Wanda has over 15 years of experience in HIV/AIDS work. During those years, she has focused on the HIV/AIDS population, both in the United States and Africa.
- Sarah David, RN, BSN, Emergency Nurse from New York City, NY. Before becoming a Travel Nurse, Sarah worked in the Emergency Department in the Bronx, NY. This challenging work atmosphere taught her to multi-task, prioritize and think critically on her feet.
- Kimberly Law, BSN, RN(C) Perinatal Nurse Specialist from Penticton, British Columbia. Kim is a registered nurse with certified practice in reproductive health and perinatal specialty training. In 2012, she traveled to Liverpool, UK to obtain a professional certificate in Emergency Obstetrical Care and Newborn Care as well as her Diploma in Tropical Nursing.
- Kerra Plesko, a certified perinatal nurse in a Maternity unit in Prince George, B.C., Canada, where she is responsible for antepartum, L&D and postpartum care.
The team will meet in Washington DC and depart from Dulles airport August 25, 2013.
“I’m hopeful that the success of Nurses for Edna will inspire other nurses to join with us, sharing their passion, skills and knowledge to benefit those most in need at home and around the globe,” said Sue Averill, President, One Nurse At A Time. “I do believe we can change the world, one nurse at a time.”
About One Nurse At A Time
One Nurse At A Time, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by nurses in 2007. They are passionate about giving back to the local and global community through volunteer and humanitarian medical pursuits. Their goals are to support nurses by lowering the entry barriers to volunteer locally and globally, and to increase public awareness of the role and contribution nurses make at home and abroad. For more information, please contact Nancy Leigh Harless, Communications Liaison, at 319.372.1339, email email@example.com; or Sue Averill, President 206.527.4862
About Barco’s Nightingales Foundation
Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by Michael and Frida Donner on behalf of Barco Uniforms. The Foundation serves to advance the nursing profession and honor nurses who devote their lives to serving the community. The Foundation is the Donner family’s way of paying tribute and saluting the many generations of nurses for their tremendous contribution in making the world a better place. Its objective is to support the vitality and courageous heart of nursing, while also dedicating itself to honoring the spirit of those women and men who choose nursing by focusing its philanthropic efforts on helping to mend the lives of children and their families. For more information, please contact Barco’s Nightingales Foundation headquarters at 310.719.2108, follow us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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