Faculty and students from the University’s Department of Nursing went on a medical mission trip to provide healthcare for impoverished communities in Haiti last month and are now accepting various donated supplies to assemble hygiene kits for next year’s mission.
The week-long trip that took place from Jan. 5 – 11 was organized by the non-profit organization Foundation for Peace and District 14 of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honors Society of Nursing. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students from various universities assisted in setting up clinics and providing basic medical care for local families.
“I heard about this mission trip from the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Society at a previous university that I worked at. One of my nursing alumni students was working on it and I joined her on the trip. I loved it,” said Dr. Chris McSherry, Director of the Pre-Licensure Nursing Program. “The students and nurses on these mission trips share experiences and learn and grow together. It is very rewarding.”
The volunteers worked in four different areas throughout the Ganthier region of Haiti, including the area that was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2010. Some of their responsibilities included diagnosing and treating patients of curable illnesses, distributing basic medications or antibiotics, and educating the community on things like hand washing and how to treat minor wounds. Volunteers typically see from 600-1,000 patients each day.
Referring to the necessity of basic supplies to stay healthy, Dr. Lauren Jannone, Chair of Nursing and Director of the MSN Program who also attended the trip, said, “They are very important. Most families have no soap, water or toothbrushes.”
According to the Foundation for Peace website, some of the patients treated had never before seen a medical professional prior to this mission. Access to basic healthcare and medication is extremely limited in Haiti, putting communities at high-risk for bacterial infections or diseases. According to the Department of Public Health, some common diseases in Haiti include Malaria, Hepatitis A, and Typhoid Fever.
However, providing these donations and adequate medical care is not the only thing the participants involved in these mission trips intend to accomplish. According to the Foundation for Peace’s mission statement, another important aspect of the trip is to offer “encouraging words and moments of caring that say, ‘I see you. Your life matters to me.’”
“The people I met in Haiti taught me more than I could ever teach them. Their smiles, kind-heartedness, joy, laughter, hard work and thankfulness—despite the harsh conditions that they live in—was truly inspiring,” said Michelle Baginski, a nursing student who traveled with the group last month, in a recent online interview conducted by Foundation for Peace.
“I like to see the relief on a person’s face when they see that their pain is manageable and we can assist with that and I love working with students who are eager to learn and also willing to assist others in need,” said McSherry, who has participated in several other mission trips, her first in Ghana, Africa.
Haiti is not the only possible destination for mission groups working with Foundation for Peace. The non-profit organization works with several universities throughout the country and organizations such as Sigma Theta Tau in order to assemble groups of professionals to participate in trips to the Dominican Republic and Kenya as well. They partner with students from almost all medical disciplines and backgrounds including physicians, occupational therapists, audiologists and psychologists to try to provide the most comprehensive care as possible. The organization relies heavily on donations to obtain the necessary amount of medications and vitamins for the trips, according to the Foundation for Peace website.
The Nursing Department is now collecting basic items such as washcloths, toothpaste or vitamins to bring to Haiti with them on their next trip. They are also accepting monetary donations so that they may purchase other supplies or medications to suit the specific needs of the community in which they will be volunteering.
Anyone interested in donating products for the trip taking place next January should contact Dr. Laura Jannone by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the nursing office on the third floor of McAllan Hall.
IMAGE TAKEN from pri.org
PHOTO TAKEN by Dr. Laura Jannone
PHOTO TAKEN from cmmb.org