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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Doug Demo tells about his experience with Refuge International

Thanks to a scholarship from One Nurse At A Time, which was made possible by a generous donation from Omicrom Delta chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau, the honor society of nursing. I was able to participate in my second medical mission trip with Refuge International to San Raymundo, Guatemala in October 2014. Throughout the week the team provided primary care services to nearly 600 patients, and we were fortunate this year to have the skills of two general surgeons, an OB-GYN, a urologist and an orthopedic surgeon who completed 43 surgical procedures. Although I work at an urgent care center in the US, I was assigned to the OR area again this year as a circulating nurse. From hernias and hysterectomies to cystoceles and lap choles, patients were soon able to have relief from a range of conditions that had plagued them for months and in some cases even years! It was a wonderful opportunity to experience a different side of nursing while simultaneously using my Spanish language skills in the perioperative area.
            In collaboration with the Asociacion Medica Quirurgica de San Raimundo, Refuge International makes three medical mission trips to San Raymundo each year as well as to other sites in Guatemala. The organization also participates in a nation-wide program called “Adios Lombrices,” which aims to rid school-age children of worms, and a clean water project, which involves constructing wells to provide clean water in rural areas. I was impressed by a group of strangers who can come together in such a short period of time and make the best of limited resources to provide much needed health care services. The clinic where we worked is only open when volunteer groups come to staff it, and it may be a month or longer before another group visits the area to provide another round of services.
            Every medical trip has its challenges and frustrations, but they also have special joys and memories. As a healthcare professional I wonder how I am going make a connection with people from a different culture? On this trip, I was chatting with a woman in her 50’s as she was getting prepped for surgery, and I jokingly told her that after the surgery she would feel much better, and then we could have a party and go dancing.  She smiled and nodded her head and then the anesthesia kicked in. Later in the recovery area, she was sitting in a chair and I asked her if she was ready to dance.  Remembering our conversation, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry, but I only dance with my husband.”  We laughed together and I wished her well in her recovery before heading back into the OR for my next case.  Even though I did not perform the surgery, I know that smiles and laughter can alleviate fear, raise spirits and provide comfort. Smiles and laughter transcend cultural boundaries and serve as a reminder that nursing is more than IV pumps, documentation and call bells. When circumstances force you to get “back to the basics” you are quickly reminded that the patient is the focus of your work and that you can make a connection using the most available tool around--yourself.
            Having traveled to Guatemala on several occasions, I do not experience the same culture shock as new travelers, but that does not mean that I am unaware of the poverty, living conditions or social struggles in the region. I make the trip knowing those problems exist and with the hope that my short time in the area might bring some needed relief. There is a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan that says “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  As a nurse I help someone every day as part of my job, but going to Guatemala is a special opportunity to help a different someone, and I hope that my participation in medical missions can inspire other nurses to reach out and find their “someone” to help.

Douglas Demo, RN
New Jersey

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Megan Duda R.N. reports on her trip to Ecuador

On Oct. 25, 2014 I led a team of 4 nurses and a pharmacist to Ecuador for a medical-outreach mission trip.  Our clinic was 4 days long we spent 2 days in San Josue, Ecuador and 2 days in Liberador Bolivar. We worked from 9am to 5-7pm. In those 4 days we saw over 700 villagers… absolutely amazing. The needs varied from villagers simply wanting vitamins to needing emergent care. Returning this year to Ecuador was a blessing especially to see the knowledge the villagers retained from last year’s teachings and care we provided.
I enjoyed watching my team grow individually and as a unit throughout the trip.  As a leader I was able to use my knowledge from last year to be there for my team. I enjoyed being able to experience the medical mission to the fullest by having the freedom to be a part of each assessment area for example the triage, in-depth assessment area, pharmacy area, teachings, and prayer area.  Overall, I think I enjoyed being able to pray more this year with the villagers than last year the most, because it created a bond between myself and the villagers that I will hold close to my heart forever.

The thing I enjoyed least was some of my team members being ill, myself included. Some of my team members were ill before we even left the states as was I, some became ill in Ecuador, and after we returned home. I was very worried about them. This was the most challenging aspect because as the leader I felt a little helpless not being able to know why they were ill or being able to relieve their illnesses.
The cultural difference that I observed was the male dominant society. One of the village nurses that helped us was not able to do anything like going with a patient to the hospital without getting permission from her husband first. She had mentioned having to ask at the right time, but in the end he still said no. Our translator was a newlywed who was in a more modern relationship; however she still needed to be home to make her husband supper before he came home from work.  Another example was one of our patient’s, Lida, she was a young woman that suffers from a dura tear with excessive cerebral spinal fluid nasal drainage for the past 6 months. She has been waking up in the morning to a soaked pillow in the morning, having frequent severe headaches, memory loss, and other complications. Her memory loss is so excessive she forgets she is cooking something and it burns… in turn domestic abuse is the result. I explained the complexity of her condition and informed her of the need for surgical intervention as soon as possible. She needed to have her husband come to talk with us to decide, for her, what she should do. When the husband arrived and talked with myself, the Pastor Luis, and the Pastor’s wife Karen, the result was unreal; as the Pastor talked with the husband there was no emotion from the husband; then the husband said, “ It is not my problem… it is her and her families problem.”  Tears poured down Lida’s face.  As we talked more with Lida is was clear that domestic abuse was the likely reason of the dura tear.  Although this is sad situation, I remind myself of is that Pastor Luis and his wife Karen are teaching the community how to appreciate your spouse and value equality within marriage as they demonstrate this on a daily basis.
The most difficult cultural difference is the ability to pay for healthcare versus the United States. In the United States we have government funding, foundations, special hospitals, or payment plans to assist with getting the treatment we need when we need it. In Ecuador, they need to pay for clinic visits and specialists. Some hospitals provide free care and procedures, but the patients need to buy the medications, anesthesia, and much more before anything will be done. If the procedure needs a specialist  for the surgery payment needs to be provided before the surgery. For example, Lida, a young women with the dura tear, needs emergent surgery, but is not able to afford to pay for the medications, transportation, or other aspects of care that she needs to have prior to the surgery, so she goes without. Her condition would be a neurological emergency in the United States.  Another example is an 8 year old little girl that has a narrowed airway passage and has seen a specialist that informed her family she needed surgery or could possibly die. The family has no money to pay for this $1000 surgical procedure. In the United States these things would be taken care of right away. I think people take this for granted in the United States. Yet, in Ecuador these people fear for their lives on a daily basis and pray that God provides a miracle.
Another cultural difference is the happiness and love the people of Ecuador radiate to each other as well as visitors.  As a sign of respect when you meet someone new, are greeting someone you have known forever, or when you say good-bye you give them a hug and a kiss on the cheek. This is actually one of the things I miss most when I return to the states from Ecuador.  Similar to the United States, the aspect that is hard to wrap your mind around is the abuse that occurs behind closed doors and the lack of love in some families; however there are organizations that are available for people to utilize to escape these circumstances in the U.S. and in Ecuador there is not.
The people of Ecuador are very kind and understanding. I needed to use my Spanish speaking skills much more this year which was a challenge. I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, but the Ecuadorian people did not criticize, did not laugh at me, and did not judge me as a stumbled with my words or required a little extra time to think of the right word I needed to use.  Instead, they would help me by suggesting words, help teach me proper pronunciation and vocabulary, and laughed with me when I made jokes or said something silly.

My most “memorable moments” are caring for Lida the lady with the dura tear with excessive cerebral spinal fluid leaking from her nose and Rosa Rodriguez an 103 year old lady with extreme pain:
 Lindsay one of my team members was assessing Lida and called me over. Lindsay explained that Lida was having memory loss, headaches, dizziness, and burning with excessive nasal drainage that pours from her nose when she simply looks down. I ran to get a glucometer and asked Lida if she could give me a little sample of the drainage from her nose. She looked down and I couldn’t believe at how fast and how much drainage poured in the cup. I tested the nasal drainage for glucose which is an indicator of a cerebral spinal fluid leak if glucose is present. The test came back positive with a glucometer reading of 241.  Although, this was a very difficult diagnosis to explain to Lida, being able to diagnosis her or at least have a idea of the seriousness of her condition put into action a immediate interventions for Lida. All Lida needed to do was let us know she wanted help and if money wasn’t an issue be open to having surgery. After hours of praying with Lida, providing information of the seriousness of her condition, and informing her of complications she could experience if she did not have surgery, Lida informed us she wanted the surgery, so she could better take care of her kids. Lida doesn’t have support from her family or her spouse. She continues to have to live in an abusive relationship.  The bravery Lida showed at that moment was truly unbelievable.
At the end of our last clinic day we were closing the clinic when an elderly woman was pushing another elderly woman in a wheel chair down a dirt road. The lady in the wheel chair was crying and in excessive pain. The woman pushing the wheel chair reported that the lady in the wheel chair was her mother and is 103 years old. Her name is Rosa Rodriguez. The daughter explained that Rosa had broke her left hip a year ago and has had pain ever since.  Recently, she was having increased pain in both hips and her right lower leg. As a geriatric nurse this broke my heart. We immediately gave Rosa some Tylenol and I massaged her lower legs and hips with muscle rub. She continued to cry and as a nurse I have never felt so helpless and useless as I did not have the resources to relieve this woman’s suffering…at that moment I understood completely what these people experience every day.  I tried to comfort Rosa and I held her close as she wept. I could not hold back my tears.  Many people surrounded Rosa and we prayed a long time for her.  After we prayed, it was as if God reached down and placed is hand on Rosa…she finally had stopped crying and appeared settled. Although, she stopped crying Pastor Luis and I kept holding her hands and everyone that surrounded her was silent, but you could feel the empathy for Rosa in the air. We asked her daughter where she lived. She explained to one of the volunteers and we lifted Rosa into the truck and drove them home. Her daughter who was in her early 80’s had pushed her mother in a wheel chair about 2 miles to get her to our clinic. Pastor Luis and I wheeled Rosa into her house and her great grand-daughters helped her into bed. I taught her great grand-daughters how to administer the medications, properly lift her, properly lay her into bed, and provide adequate nutrition as well as fluids. I overheard Pastor Luis say to Rosa, “Do not worry. You are in your bed in your own home.” Rosa looked at peace. I knew we had to get back, but it took everything in me to leave her there… I wished I could stay with her and keep her comfortable. I kissed her on her forehead and hugged her family.  I asked Pastor Luis why he told her she was home. He told me because she thought her family was leaving her with us, which was another reason she was so scared. As we drove away I prayed that God would hold her close to Him and her suffering would be lifted. Rosa Rodriquez changed my life in ways I can’t even express… she has a special place in my heart that I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
The impact this medical outreach mission had on my nursing career is hard to put in to words. I will never be the same nurse or person as I was before this mission. The people I met and cared for changed me and reminded me why I became a nurse in the first place. In the United States, people sometimes take nurses for granted and the passion of nursing sometimes becomes dimmed by this. Sometimes nurses do forget why they became a nurse in the first place because after days, weeks, months, and years of staying late at work, not getting to use the bathroom for 8-12 hours, missing lunches, and being ordered to do things without a please or a thank you in return becomes tiring. However, after my mission last year and this year I have come back to the United States with such appreciation for the things other nurses have taught me, other things I learned on my own, and all the patients/resident’s I have cared for throughout my nursing career. God provided these rare opportunities to me and all I did was say, “yes” and he took care of the rest. Helping over 700 people in 4 days is definitely works of God because he gave all of my team, the volunteers, and me the strength, knowledge, and skills to help each and every one of His people.
I honestly wish every nurse could experience a medical outreach mission trip because I believe our society and health care systems including clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, home health care, school nurses, and every other nursing profession would be changed for the better as every nurse would have a renewed outlook and humbling experience to relate to when they are working with others.
I cannot thank One Nurse At A Time and their supporters for the scholarship I received this year.  Without them I would not have been able to experience and learn the things I did. 
Nursing is an extraordinary career and takes very unique individuals…Being a nurse we affect many people on a daily basis within our own communities… Being a nurse missionary we promote change in ourselves, our communities, and the world.
Thank you,

Megan Duda R.N.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Volunteer opportunity in El Salvador - Operating Room Nurses

Healing the Children SW Chapter needs 3-4 operating room nurses for a surgical trip to Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador. The trip's focus will be ENT and Plastics ages children through 17 years of age. The team will stay in San Salvador, El Salvador. The trip is from February 28-March 7th 2015. Voluneers pay, air, lodging and meals (dinners and breakfast). This organization will be returning to the hospital "Hospital La Divina Provdencia" for the 6th year and welcomes nurses willing to take on the challenge of operating in a less-than-familiar settings. :)

If interested, please email

Monday, October 20, 2014


This just came in our email today, it sounds like an interesting opportunity and we wanted to share it to our followers. Let us know if you decide to go and what you might have learned from your travel there! 

Don't miss this opportunity to join my delegation and travel to Costa Rica.

Nursing Delegation to Costa Rica. This is a great opportunity to travel to an enchanting part of the world while enriching your professional career and collaborating with colleagues. The Nursing Delegation to Costa Rica, January 10-17 2015.
Take this opportunity to experience Costa Rica as a Citizen Ambassador
On this delegation you can:
-Experience the people and culture of Costa Rica.
-Learn firsthand about Costa Rica's efforts to be sustainable, green, and protective of animal and plant life. Appreciate rich biodiversity at Arenal Natura Ecological Park as you witness exotic frogs, birds, and reptiles in the tropical rainforest at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano.
-We hope to discuss:
The Costa Rican health system and management of acute and chronic illnesses
Role of nurses and other healthcare professionals
Nursing education and training
Major communicable and non-communicable health challenges for the people of Costa Rica

Ebola Presentation from CDC - check it out

"Guidance for the Selection and 

Use of Personal Protective 
Equipment (PPE) in Healthcare 

Here is an excellent PowerPoint presentation for all nurses to read up on in regards to PPE (personal protective equipment) for Ebola. The PowerPoint is pretty dry, but it talks about what PPE is, how to apply and remove your PPE, some excellent do's and don'ts and when to use it.

CDC Ebola PPE PowerPoint Presentation

The best slide is at the end:

Final thoughts of PPE Use in Hospitals: 
1. PPE is available to protect you from exposure to infectious agents in the workplace
2. Know what type of PPE is necessary for the duties you perform and use it correctly. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Meet Kathy our new scholarship coordinator!

In nursing school, I was one of the lucky students given an opportunity to rotate

through the NICU at Buffalo Children’s Hospital. I fell in love with the pace,

the technology and the families. I worked, returned to school, expanded my

practice and finally settled in as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Santa Barbara,

CA. Simultaneously I desperately wanted babies of my own and adopted 3 from

Colombia. I retired from Nursing to raise my children knowing that one day I

would return to nations like Colombia and would participate in volunteer nursing.

In the meantime, I began working on local philanthropy projects with both of

my daughters in our local area, with National Charity League. Now the day has

arrived, my children are grown and off to college and/or working and I can pursue

my dream to make a difference. I have started slowly, working with ONAAT as

the scholarship coordinator, since it is exactly ONAAT is what I envisioned when I

pictured an organization to become involved with. The next step will be my own

medical mission!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tanya tells about surgical mission to Guatemala

In the five days that we actually treated patients our clinic team saw 1038 patients. Our team completed 206 surgeries in that same five days, including OB/GYN, ophthalmology, plastic and general laparoscopic surgeries. A lot of gallbladder removals, hernia repairs, hysterectomies, mass removals and some cleft lip/palate repairs were done. The eye team repaired a lot of cataracts, pterygiums and patients that were cross-eyed. Our outreach group saw 327 patients and our stove team installed stoves in over 100 homes. Each home received an indoor stove, an outdoor stove and a water filtration system.

There were so many things that I enjoyed on the trip, it is hard to put into words. I loved the people I met, the friendships I made and the patients I was fortunate enough to take care of. I especially enjoyed taking care of the children. Living in an area where medical care is far and few between, it seemed the children were even more apprehensive than typical, which made it all the more rewarding when they would warm up to you.

Having to say goodbye to all my new friends was the hardest part of the trip. Sure, the bathrooms weren’t five-star and the spiders came in extra-large sizes, but I knew about all that before going into the trip. What I didn’t foresee was the relationships I would build in such a short amount of time. The people I got to work with on the mission were one-of-a-kind. All there to help others, all there on their own accord; I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to work with them for a week.

The people of Guatemala were extremely gracious. Every single patient (and their family), that left after a surgery, whether I took care of them directly or not, would give me a hug, a kiss, tell me thank you and God bless you. The amount of gratitude they had was overwhelming and it has made me crave going back.
They all appeared to have very close-knit families. Every patient seemed to have at least one or two support people with them-even the ones who had traveled four or five hours for the care. No one complained that there weren’t enough beds for the family members to stay in-they stayed in chairs, on the floor and shared beds with each other.
There were so many wild dogs. I was told that most of the people of Guatemala view dogs as a burden and it’s rare to have one as a pet. I guess because I was naïve to this, it came as a shock to see so many roaming dogs, semi-friendly but not tame necessarily.

Jello after surgery.
One morning, I was able to observe a bilateral cleft lip repair surgery on a two year old. It was interesting to actually see the process of this common procedure (instead of just the end result as a recovery nurse). I had seen the two year old boy the day before preoperatively, and obviously during surgery, but the best part was seeing him very shortly after his surgery. I was working in the recovery room and got to see him shoveling down jello, pushing his mom away in a, “I can do this on my own” way. Crying and whining for more jello. It was a moment I will never forget—the way the mom was tearing up watching him eat—without a cleft lip, and him without a care in the world that he had just had surgery.

Singing Happy Birthday to a patient.
Every evening a few of our co-workers who brought down their guitars would lead us in hymns that we would sing in the recovery wing of the hospital. Patients and their family members would occasionally join, and a lot of the songs we would sing first in English and then in Spanish. The first night they did this it gave me chills, and on the last night (when we only had four patients left spending the night), it made me laugh and cry. We transitioned from hymns to campfire songs and I felt as giddy as a school child at summer camp. We sung for hours into the late night, different people stopping by to join in or request a song. Here, I was once again amazed at how quickly I had become so close to the people I was working with.

One evening when I was on shift and the group had gathered around to sing to the recovery patients I was given the sweetest gesture by a seven year old patient. After I had finished rounding on patients I came to the group to sing along. This polite, small, seven year old boy, who I had gotten to know well over the last two days as he was recovering from his surgery, got up without hesitation and offered up his stool to me. Without any words, he stood up and patted the top of the stool for me to sit down. Not knowing Spanish very well, I got it across to him that I would not take his chair from him. He insisted and then ran off, quickly returning with a second stool that he sat right next to mine. We sat together while I sung and he listened. His dad looked on from the back of the room and gave me a quick smile. It was a small gesture, but it was grand in my eyes as I felt connected to not only him, but the other pediatric patients despite our language barrier.

Now that I have been on a medical mission, my nursing career will never be the same. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to go help others, but I know I am blessed because of what the people of Guatemala gave me. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel like they gave me more than I gave them. They gave me a deep happiness as well as an appreciation for what I have. Their graciousness and spirit will never be forgotten, and I am thankful for all that they taught me about family, love and perseverance. I know that I will not be able to have this be a one-time event—I am hooked and can’t wait to go back as soon as I can. I will for now on, incorporate medical missions into my future planning.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jo's Nurse Week 2!

Here I am four days into my first nursing mission, and it is funny to think how far I have already come in the past few days. I was VERY nervous for this trip, which is strange because it is not my first time traveling, and I have even been to Central America before. I was more anxious to participate in this nursing mission experience than any of my military training (Basic Training, Air Assault School, training in El Salvador, Marathons, etc.), and before I arrived I could not place why I was feeling such strong feelings.
After some reflection, I realized that  I was worried that I would not be good enough, not know enough, and not be able to help the people here in the way that I really wished I could. As a new nurse, I still have insecurities about my knowledge, experience, and lack of clinical practice. HOWEVER, lucky for me I am joined in this experience with three other wonderful nurses.I am so grateful for all of the support that JP, Sandie, and Sandy have provided during this trip. Within the first day of meeting everyone it was hard to even remember why I felt so nervous.This experience has a strange sensation of moving by so fast, and yet, I feel like I have been here for a very long time.
Although our first few clinic days started off slow (Easter week is a National holiday), some patients came in and we were able to provide care. I really appreciated how much we all worked as a team and how each nurse supported the other. JP really harped on how important education is for the success and future of the community; we should see each interaction as an opportunity to teach, not only about the presenting problem, but about general health promotion. Education and prevention is the key to health in this community, at home, and all over the world. In addition to providing care for bacterial infections, fungal infections, etc, we provided education on proper hydration, body mechanics, nutrition, and much more. I was so touched by people´s gratitude for us being here and the services we provided. The people have made me feel so welcome, despite my broken Spanish and at times quiet demeanor. It is hard to explain how wonderful, passionate, and strong the people of this community are.
As I was walking down the hill from the clinic yesterday,I saw a small girl playing with a broom and sweeping a tree. Although this image may seem silly or insignificant; seeing this made me smile. I remember seeing a photo of me, at around the same age doing the exact same thing. I feel so grateful for the fortunate circumstances that I was raised in, it really just seems like luck for being born into the life I was brought up in, not having to worry about food, or if I could go to the doctors, or if I could afford to go to High School. This experience has significantly contributed to my passion for the career that I am choosing to enter. I am so excited to start working as an Army Nurse next month, and to finally gain the clinical experience, skill and knowledge that I so strongly crave. This experience has truly been both life changing and career changing. I feel a strong pull to work in underserved communities, whether they are at home or abroad. I know that I will return to Central America as a nurse; next time with experience under my belt, and a lot better Spanish. Until then, I will remember this truly amazing experience, and the wonderful people that I have met and learned from along the way

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jo's Nurses in El Remate, Guatemala

I initially applied for Jo´s Nurses because I wanted an experience that would change my life forever, cement my desire to get involved in humanitarian nursing, and to make a difference. I knew that this trip would make me appreciate life in so many more ways and so far, it certainly has. As nurses we are inherently compassionate people, but experiencing poverty in another country really forces you to open your heart, your mind, and your soul in a way you never thought was possible.
I was extremely excited prior to leaving for Guatemala. I don´t claim to be a seasoned traveler by any means, but I have traveled internationally in the past so I wasn´t too worried
about what I was going to be faced with. When I arrived in El Remate however, I had such complete culture shock. I wasn’t nearly as mentally prepared as I thought I was. I think as people we tend to shelter ourselves unknowingly, constantly gravitating towards familiarity and comfort. But the beauty of being human is that we have the ability to learn from all of our interactions with every single person that comes into our lives, even if it´s through a passing moment. Being a nurse is so incredibly rewarding because as much as we touch the lives of our patients, they touch ours as well. Everyone has a story. And the people of Guatemala certainly have their own to share.
Working at Ix-Canaan has been an unbelievable experience. It has been challenging, because there are no physicians here. What this means is that JP and I have been solely running the clinic, diagnosing, prescribing medication, and managing care for the people we have been seeing. We´ve seen everything, from a woman who had a systolic blood pressure in the 200s, to a woman who came in with a UTI. I think the most exciting experiences I have had so far was listening for a fetal heart rate using a Doppler and helping JP suture a full thickness laceration on a young man who had gotten into a bar fight the night before. These are things that I haven´t had the chance to do back at home. The most difficult part about this has been trying to think outside the box. Supplies are really limited here. It´s amazing how much we take for granted sometimes - things such as normal saline or syringes are so hard to come by. And so we have to be creative. We have to be resourceful. I have to think
in ways that I wouldn´t normally have to back at home. When a 15 year old pregnant teenager walked into the clinic, and I was told that this was very normal in Guatemala, I was forced to reevaluate my own expectations, judgments, and values.  I have, without a doubt, not only grown as a nurse here, but as a person as well.
I don´t think I was quite prepared for the level of poverty that I am seeing here in Guatemala. You hear about it and you read about it, but until you´re actually standing there, the reality of it just hits you like a brick wall. What I find incredible though, is that those that have nothing, in my opinion, have everything. They have so much happiness, love, and warmth. They are so full of life. The Guatemalan people have been such amazing hosts to us. They enjoy life´s simple pleasures and the beauty of every moment. It has been a true blessing to have this opportunity, and it´s something that I will never forget. The best part about all of this though, is that without a doubt in my mind, I will be back.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anita is back from Ecuador!

Thanks to One Nurse At a Time and their scholarship program I was able to fulfill my dream of international volunteering.

 In February of 2014 I was given the gift and opportunity to travel to Esmeraldes, Ecuador with the Ecuadent Foundation.  The team of surgeons, anesthesiologist, operating room nurses, PACU nurses, equipment technicians and Spanish interpreters performed and provided care for approximately seventy patients. My most memorable moment would be witnessing the joy of the parents face when they saw their child after their cleft lip repair. Due to limited time, we were not able to provide services for all that came seeking, so it was difficult to see the faces of families that had to be turned away. Esmeraldes is a poor city of Ecuador. The people have very little money and possessions, but they have something money can not buy. They have a strong spirit, love for their family, country and culture. 
The people of Esmeraldes gave me more than I could ever give them. I provide pre and post anesthesia care for newborn to18 years of age in the United States. I have seen an increase in Spanish families that speak very little to no English. Being in Ecuador and not having the ability to fully communicate due to my limited Spanish, at times I felt alone and isolated. I now have the experience of understanding how my Spanish families may surely feel here in the United States. I love the country and people of Ecuador. They will always have a special place in my heart. It is my plan and dream to continue volunteering my nursing skills to those in need. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE GIFT OF GIVING!!

Anita Sawczenko

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meet our latest scholarship recipient.

My name is Anita and I'm proud to be a recipient of One Nurse At a Time scholarship. I've been an active participating nurse for approximately 30 years at University of Maryland Medical Center. Of those years, 25 was spent in the neonatal intensive care nursery. I'm currently working in the pediatric post anesthesia recovery unit. I provide pre and post anesthesia nursing care for infants to 18 years  in a out patient and in patient setting. I have dedicated my entire nursing career to pediatrics. I received my Associate of Arts degree in nursing from Catonsville Community College. I have volunteered with my community church by providing meals for the homeless, gathering donated and packing of non-perishable items for families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It has always been a passion of minds to volunteer on an international level. Now that I have two adult children, I feel it's my time to fulfill that dream. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going to the movies and dining out. I took  ballet in college and just decided to resume as a recreation . I'm looking forward to helping others around the world. I know they will give me far more than I could ever give them. Blessed for this opportunity.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Join our movement to put more nurse into the world!

 So, you have always wanted to go on a medical mission?  

      Here's your chance!  Jo's Nurses are at it again. 

JP Denham, one of our 4 nurses from 2013 will be the mentor this trip.  

Location:  Ixcanaan Clinic in El Remate, Guatemala (fly into Flores)
Dates:  2 nurses arrive April 12 and depart April 19
            2 nurses arrive April 16 and depart April 23
(yes, there is an overlap of 2 days so the outgoing team can help orient the incoming team).
The teams will be working in the clinic, at local hospitals and in the community.

Goal of the trip is to support nurses to a successful first of many missions.  Join our movement to put more nurse into the world!


1.  Complete the online application under the Scholarship tab: (there is no application fee).  

2.  Have 2 references complete the online reference forms.

3.  Spanish language is highly recommended, but lack of language will not exclude a candidate.  

4.  Active RN license.

5.  Nurse will pay half of the flight from home city to Guatemala City.  One Nurse At A Time will pay half, round trip from Guatemala City to Flores, and all in country transportation, food and housing.  Gifts, incidentals and travel expenses outside the mission are the responsibility of the nurse.

6.  Nurse makes a moral commitment to do another volunteer trip (anywhere in the world) by the end of 2015.

7.  Nurse should prepare for 1-2 days of travel to and from.

8.  Journalling, sharing experiences with teammates and friends/family/coworkers/media at home, sharing pictures and trip report with One Nurse At A Time, participating in interviews as invited.

9.  Assist with fundraising or other means of support for the Jo's Nurses program.

Deadline to apply is February 28, 2014.