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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ways to Help

It has been a long hard winter and spring is not really looking completely as positive and bright as I thought it would. These days horrific and devastating events are occurring at a higher rate...doesn't it seem like that is true?
I don't have hard facts to back me up with this opinion, and maybe since I am in tune with the news more than I ever have been as an adult - it just seems more apparent. The other factor may be that every time I go to a trauma conference we talk about disaster preparedness and training and THAT makes me always feel unprepared and vulnerable.
I was reading some news releases about West, Texas and the shock, fear, and sadness that has resulted from that explosion. Many people say that if you were standing outside watching the fire you would probably be dead - mainly because of the concussive  blast that occurred. All pets that were outside are dead, windows are all broken - shattered into pieces and/or stuck into walls. All doors of houses were blasted open, including shelf doors and cupboards. The pictures are horrendous. The story is unbelievable. The questions are the same - Who? Why? How?
Then to the earlier part of the week - The Boston Marathon - again, this seems insane? Right? I spent the better half of the day reading about the older brother's life history, his marriage, his wife and their toddler daughter. I've seen the amazing pictures, the graphic and truly shocking pictures and have wondered - has the World become battle field? If it is not a terrorist bombing, it is an earthquake, plant explosion, building cracks and crumbled in India, Tsunami's, radiation poisoning, drought, the list goes on!
All of us need to be prepared to take care of ourselves, as well as be prepared to help others. Whether that means signing up for the next CPR course or signing yourself up as an American Red Cross Volunteer. Everyone has to be able to care and help out each other.

Here are some ways in West, Texas that you can help if interested:
1.  Sign up with the Red Cross in Texas - at Dallas American Red Cross
2.  Donate Blood - Blood Center of Central TexasGulf Coast Regional Blood CenterLifeShare Blood Center, Louisiana
3. This was an easy way to find a non-health volunteer opportunity in Texas - Volunteer Match - Texas

Now, if Boston is more in your neck of the woods I have checked out a couple of opportunities here as well.
1.  Sign up with the Red Cross in Boston at - Boston American Red Cross
2.  Donate Blood at Mass General - Mass General Blood Donation
3.  And again, another easy way for a non-health volunteer to find ways to help in Boston - Volunteer in Boston

Please extend a hand, donate some blood, take that CPR course you have always wanted to take, and just do something for you, your friends, your family and your loved ones.

Good luck,


Monday, April 22, 2013

Jo in Ecuador

 I  am Josephine Sullivan, an Operating Room nurse from Louisville,KY. This was my third surgical mission
with Healing the Children to Ecuador. The mission was made possible because of a scholarship from One Nurse At a Time and Barcos Nightingales.  You need to know that Ecuador is important to me because ,when I was seven,we had an exchange student,Pauline,from Quito live with us.I remember telling her that ”Someday I’ll go to your country. “It was good to be back in Ecuador and I have started  planning  my return. I now have friends there that are glad to see me, what fun.

   Our team consisted of four surgeons, four Anesthesiologists, two pediatricians, one nurse anesthestist, two nurse practitioner, two ENT Residents,two OR nurses, one nurse administrator, one OR tech. one first assistant and three other young people,who performed a variety of duties.Most of the team was from Louisville,a very agreeable and competent  group.
   We worked at two hospitals in four operating rooms. Manta had plastics and  ENT. Portoviejo had pediatric general surgery and orthopedics. My work was done in Portoviejo that included 6 orthopedic cases and 40 general surgeries that included mostly  hernia repairs and undecended testicles. The most rewarding was to return to a facility that I had worked in the previous trip to find I was remembered and welcomed by the staff and translators.  The young pediatric surgeon told me I looked like an angel and invited me to visit his office and meet his partners.He also took his young son and me to the park where iguanas live in trees.The hardest thing to endure was the mode of sterilization used in the facility.
The first unexpected event happened on the day of patient evaluations. They actually listened to me when I shared what had finally worked for us before. We seemed  organized and professional.It was heart warming.
The next unexpected event occurred after the second day of surgery.My Brigade leader,who I had never worked with before said “You really know your job.”I responded “I told you that.” To which she responded “But you’re really good.”I was speachless.She is not always generous with compliments. Having done the same job for 30 years,I am confident,but it sure is nice to hear.
   The Ecuadorian people are a very gracious and giving people. The major religion in the area is Catholic and being raised Catholic this was familiar and comfortable. Parental relationships are similar as the main focus of parents is on the well being of their children.Children are the same all over the world, curious and trusting or leery,depending on the day.I am fortunate,children don’t usually see me as a threat.
   What I have learned about myself is that ,I am no longer fast,but I am steady  for as long  as you 
need me to be steady.
   I was fortunate enough to have a week in Ecuador after our work was done.I stayed with a friend and was graciously welcomed by her family.We visited her cousin in San Lorenzo.a small village on the coast.We sat on the porch and greeted everyone that passed,we walked in the forest and we walked on the beach.I love beaches.When her nephew learned I was a nurse,he thought I should visit a child in the next village with a rare skin condition.Did I mention my friend is related to everybody.
   The condition is Ictiosis,genetic and uncurable. Medicines and creams for him are expensive.His father is a fisherman and he has a brother and a sister.His eyes are also in need of surgical attention.The next day I visited the Eye Institute in Portoviejo where they agreed to do his surgery and provide eye drops at no cost.He is six. Hopefully by the time he starts school he will be able to see out of both eyes at the same time.
   The creams and ointments for treatment are much less expensive in Kentucky,even  to ship. My family has agreed to help provide those for him.So if we can make a difference ONAAT, then we  start one child at a time.
   We also visited another hospital for a potential future surgical mission.It was a very new two OR department and a very gracious medical dirrector.I am very hopeful about the possibilities.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Nurse At A Time And Barco’s Nightingales Foundation Collaborate To Reduce Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates In Somaliland

One Nurse At A Time and Barco’s Nightingales Foundation announced a collaborative effort to send a team of nurses to the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, to work with local medical staff and teach current nursing practice, techniques and standards of care.  This joint effort by One Nurse At A Time and Barco’s Nightingales Foundation is forged in the common values of integrity, commitment to the well-being of others, an innovative spirit, and a passion for inspiring to the hearts of others.

“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 RN, cofounder of One Nurse At A Time.  “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.  I do believe we can change the world, One Nurse 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. These factors have impacted health services and as a result, maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world.

The Nurses for Edna hope to build a lasting relationship with the hospital, empower the nurses of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, and create a pathway for future nurses to volunteer with the support of One Nurse At A Time. Nurses participating in the trip include Wanda Chestnut, RN, DHSc, HIV/AID Specialist from Glen Dale, MD; Sarah David, RN, BSN, Emergency Nurse from New York City, NY; Beth Langlais RN, BSN, MN, Maternal Child Health from Seattle Washington; and Kimberly Law, BSN, RN(C) Perinatal Nurse Specialist from Penticton, British Columbia.

During the trip, the Nurses for Edna team will hold educational seminars for the 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 on the trip will identify the needs of the hospital and the women it serves, and establish goals and a plan to achieve them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Global Health Immersion in Guatemala with Tiffany Lai

I am completely inspired and motivated from this medical journey to continually provide the best care for my patients. I am so thankful for the generosity and kindness that One Nurse At A Time has shown me by helping to support my decision to give back to the underserved communities in Guatemala.
I volunteered with Concern America within their Global Health Immersion program as a nurse practitioner to the region of Peten in Guatemala. While in Peten, I worked at a clinic in the small community of Las Cruces alongside local health promoters seeing patients in a family primary care setting. Every morning, we walked up to the clinic where we would find 20-30+ patients lined up outside the clinic from the early morning hours waiting to be evaluated for their health problems. It was overwhelming to physically see the immense need for primary care. It was humbling to see the health promoter role in action; due to lack of resources and health providers in the area, health promoters are community members
elected to go through limited sufficient training to become the local health provider for their community. Together alongside a promotor, we treated patients for a myriad of health conditions ranging from diabetes, hypertension, farming accidents, hydronephrosis, liver failure, to pre-mature infants with failure to thrive. I also had the opportunity to participate in the teaching for the first course for a new health promoter. It was so incredible to see the training of a new health promoter, and their journey from defining and understanding their newly elected vital role in society, to learning how to take vital signs. 
One of my favorite experiences was teaching new health promoters how to take a blood pressure. I also had the rare opportunity to participate in the “charlas”, or public health discussions with children within the classroom. This particular day, I participated in the teaching of children on how to prevent worms and parasites, as this is a common complaint of childhood in Peten.

The experience and memories of living and learning from a local health promoter as well as treating patients who do not often have access to health care, is what will stay with me. I feel that this trip has enriched my life, and I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity to provide my nursing and provider skills to these communities. I now have an even greater appreciation for different cultures and beliefs as well.
Thank you One Nurse at A Time and Barco’s Nightingales for supporting my journey to Guatemala. This has been an amazing journey that will remain with me for a lifetime. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First mission to Ecuador

As soon as my passport came in the mail... I couldn't wait to get on that plane!!   I will be forever grateful to the generosity of One Nurse At A Time, for helping to support my desire to give back to others and to provide medical care in a country that is in need of help.
   Shortly after arriving at the airport in Baltimore, I knew this was going to be quite an adventure.  I was the 'newbie' among the seasoned veterans..There were surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, dentists and many other invaluable volunteers coming together for this medical mission to  Ecuador.  I had a lot to learn, but definitely felt up to the challenge! I was immediately accepted as one of their  own.
  As we arrived in Ecuador,  i still wasn't sure what to expect. Thank goodness I had my good friend, Deb Skovran with me, to show me the ropes...
  My job is in the Neonatal intensive care  unit at the university of Maryland medical center in Baltimore. However, my role on this mission was that of a PACU nurse!  We traveled with Ecuadent, a non profit out of Baltimore that treats over 2,000 children each year.
   43 surgical patients  came through the PACU doors in that Hospital in Salinas Ecuador... Ages ranging from 4 months to over 40 years old... cleft palate/fistula repairs, many patients with polydactyly/syndactyly, among many other surgeries ..
I realized that not only did we help the children through these surgeries,  we made a difference in the lives of the entire family. The gratitude from the parents  and patients alike, crossed all cultural and language barriers..
  One nurse At a Time made it possible for me to be a part of this incredible journey, I am very much looking forward to the next mission.
 ..before I went on this mission, a friend told me that this trip would change my life. That friend was right :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seeking Two OR Nurses for Project H.A.N.D.S Trip - November

Project H.A.N.D.S is seeking volunteers for a surgical trip in November 2013 in rural Guatemala. Applications are now being accepted.

Here is a little about the mission and about Project H.A.N.D.S.

Project H.A.N.D.S. is a group of people who want to do our part to help rebalance the scales. Our goal is to provide healthcare, education and support to those who, by chance of birth, have less fortunate lives than our own. We are a Canadian-based, registered non-profit organization working amongst the indigenous Maya in the rural regions of Guatemala. We have no religious affiliation.

What and When:
Project H.A.N.D.S is seeking 2 OR nurses to complete the November 6-17th 2013 team, the goal of the trip is to complete 50-60 general and gynecology surgeries.

The team will be working in Salud y Paz Clinic which is located in the small town of Camanchaj, about 30 minutes from Chichicastenango. The patients served are those who live in rural areas, most of them in extreme poverty, on less than $1 a day. Over half suffer from chronic malnutrition. Poor sanitation and lack of electricity and running water and open cooking fires are typical of their homes and lifestyles. Very large families are common and most births are unattended by medical personnel.

Here is the trip schedule:
Wednesday, November 6: Travel to Guatemala and drive 45 minutes to Antigua
Thursday, November 7: Free day to enjoy Antigua’s myriad historic sites, markets and restaurants

Friday, November 8: Drive 3 hours to Camanchaj, set up clinic, then drive to hotel in Chichicastenango
Saturday, November 9: Triage patients
Sunday, November 10 – Friday, November 15: Surgery
Saturday, November 16: Return to Antigua for overnight
Sunday, November 17: Travel home

The Team:
The team consists of a team leader, a medical director (anesthesiologist), 2 surgeons, a surgical assistant, 2 anesthesiologists, 5 OR nurses, 8 PAR/post-op ward nurses, a sterile processing technician, a sterile processing assistant, 2 Spanish interpreters, 1 administration and 3 kitchen crew.

The cost of the trip is estimated at: 
Airfare: CA$1100 (budgeted cost from Vancouver)

Participant contribution: CA$700 (covers accommodations for 10 nights, ground transportation and food). Not covered: food in Antigua (2 days), expenses of a personal nature, extra nights in Antigua, single supplement if desired.

For more information please click here:

If you would like to be considered for a spot on the team please contact:
Debbie Jefkin-Elnekave
Project H.A.N.D.S Recruiting Officer



Friday, April 5, 2013

Summer Camp Opportunity, Nurse Volunteers

Here is an excellent opportunity for any nurses who may be interested in volunteering this summer. This is from their Health Services Coordinator, please read on:

Each year, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) holds a summer camp for children age 6-17 who suffer from neuromuscular disease. We rely on volunteers in the community to help us make sure they have the best week of the summer! 

MDA Summer Camp really is the most important week of the year for our kiddos. For us, finding medical staff to help take care of them and keep them safe is the most important part, and the hardest to come by. 

The dates are June 8-15 at Camp Suwannee in Dowling Park, FL. 

Health Care Services Coordinator
Jacksonville, FL

Please contact Lauren if you are interested!!

Thank you 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kayla Swanson in Guatemala

As I reflect on my mission trip with HELPS International to HueHuetenango, Guatemala.  I go over in my head the lives we impacted in the short time we were there.  Not only the people in the community but the volunteers are changed forever.

We arrived with a medical team and a stove team.  The medical team which I was part of consisted of 2 general surgeons, 2 plastic surgeons, 1 ENT surgeon, and 1 OB/GYN surgeon.  We opened 4 operating rooms and were able to do 136 surgeries in the 5 days we were operational.  We also had a general clinic which consisted of 2 pediatricians, 1 nurse practioner,  and 2 family practice physicians.  This clinic saw a little over 650 patients in 5 days.  There was also a dental team with 2 dentists that saw a little over 200 patients.

This trip also had a stove team which went into homes and installed cooking stoves which are vented to the outside and use wood more efficiently then the open fires the people have been using for decades.  The hope here is to reduce the number of burns that are suffered from cooking over a open fire and also ease some respiratory conditions they have from the soot that accumulates in their small homes.

I realize that my contribution is minimal but the rewards the people of Guatemala have given me will last for a lifetime.  I feel that the trip has helped me to realize that you don't need material things to be happy or successful in your life.  I was struck by how happy and joyfull these people were in their lives without all the trappings of gadgets and other things that complicate our everyday lives.  My hope is that by setting an example and volunteering these people will see that they are important and they will in turn find some way to give back to others in their community.

Thank you, One Nurse at A Time for this valuable opportunity to give back.  

Kayla Swanson RN