About Us

For the past two years, a group of nine undergraduate seniors, four graduate family nurse practitioner students, two FNP alumni, and three faculty members in the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College traveled to Haiti to provide nursing care to patients throughout Haiti. This year, another group is going back! Graduate and undergraduate students, along with faculty and alumni, will be working in Haiti from January 5th, 2013 through January 14th. While the BC school of nursing has given us a grant for the trip, we still need to raise a considerable amount of money to pay for supplies, equipment, and another necessities for the Haitians we will be treating and meeting. We will be updating you throughout the semester and even after our trip on the fundraising efforts, as well as our personal preparations for this journey. We're all VERY excited, and we hope that you will be too!

Our Annual 5K

Our Annual 5K
BC in Haiti 2013-2014! Email us to buy a shirt and a hat @cullindo.csnoninhaiti2014@gmail.com

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 4 of Clinic (Thursday)

So Thursday, we were in a place called "La Petite Rivière" or the Small River. It is very interesting because it is the opposite of the Big River, where the village we commuted to on Tuesday was located. It was a much flatter and drier terrain. Many acres of sugar canes were laid out. Now given these information and our knowledge of the Haitians' most occurring diseases, we could most likely expect certain conditions to be prevalent.

Particular problems to that village was of urinary origins. Many people complained of difficulty or pain while urinating. The fact that almost, if not everyone was dehydrated was not helping either. Over at triage also, many elderly complained of back pain which is a normal occurrence on people getting older. Farmers had intense dried eyes and eyes drops were great reliefs. Other common conditions in Haitians are high blood pressure and diabetes. Essentially, culture accounts for its reoccurrence amongst the Haitian population greatly because of the cuisine. The food, although delicious, can be the source of high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. GERD is incredibly prevalent along with infections in children. In the infant and toddlers/early preschoolers age groups, scabies is quite common. 

A particular case has been highlighted today when a woman came to be checked. She claimed she only wanted to obtain a cervical screening (our clinic has been offering cervical screenings given the rise of urinary and cervical diseases  women particularly suffer from without their knowledge and can be preventable when caught early).  At triage it is imperative to obtain basic vitals. An interview is always conducted to question the patient for the reason for their visits. Many times, they may have other conditions we are not aware of, and they are important to keep in mind when developing other treatment plans. Essentially, in triage, through the interview and urine tests, we could find that she was diabetic. She informed us that she knew she was diabetic and was taking proper meds. Either way, her blood glucose was assessed and her values sky rocked. Her current medicines were not working. Although she informed us that she was taking metformin and glipizide tablets, she was also taking insulin subcutaneously. With such an intense therapy, you would imagine that her sugar blood levels would be kept within the normal range. Then, furthering the interview process, more information was found: the lady also was RUNNING OUT of medication and could not afford to buy more. Therefore, she must have adopted a system to space the meds out. Sadly, she only had some glipizide left and practically no metformin, nor insulin.  Thankfully to many generous donations for us to go on this service trip, we had enough funds to buy diabetes medications. We understand their expensive  values in Haiti especially to a population whose economy is quite unstable. There are no insurance plans to cover medical costs, so there are no hopes for this lady to cover long term supplies of these meds that are preventing diabetes complications. That being said, we were able to give her almost half a year supply of medication in addition to insulin syringes. That could potentially buy her more time to save and buy her next round of meds.  

Our goal this year is to allow Haitians to be able to sustain their health after we leave. This implies providing proper medication and teaching. Although she knew she was diabetic and had sought a treatment plan,  it was just a first step towards her health's improvement. Further nursing treatment particular to this case involved reinforcing the proper way to administer the insulin and reinforcing when and how to take the oral tablets.
All in all this lady was stuck in a maze: she had a condition that could be fatal and detrimental to her life, and even though she was willing to comply to the medical treatments , she was too poor to afford them. She even had some manifestations of diabetic complications. At this point, we can only hope she continues to adhere to her treatments and practices everything we have taught her and use this economical break we have provided to save and buy her next round of meds. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 3 (Wednesday) of Clinc + Reflection

Today we were up the MOUNTAINS!! What a trip! Many have had their opportunities to face their fear of heights. First of all it was amazing to see the impeccable driving skills these drivers have: we are talking about people driving in terrain/small roads swirling up the mountains with no traffic lights or any road structure for that matter of fact. For some reason, it could be easier to trust these drivers' instincts given that they have always driven in the worst possible conditions and evidently adapted to this way of life all the years they have existed and resided in Haiti! It is safe to say that they've developed a sixth sense particular to the world of automobile transportation .

The village we went to today was the Village of Trouin. We settled in a local school and laid out our clinic according to our posts of triage, providers consultation, dentistry, scabies station and pharmacy as always. Today had taken a particular turn, however, when we were just arriving and we saw a man who looked incredibly trailed being transported to us. He needed urgent care. We settled quickly, and the providers saw him first. He had been attended and it was observed that he had tachycardia (fast/abnormally fast beating heart), severed jaundice in both eyes and upon liver palpation, it wad found incredibly enlarged (hepatomegaly). In addition, he was vomitting blood which was not ideal to a  97 degree temperature and severely dehydrated. We attempted to do as much as we could but we did not have the proper medical supplies to help him any further. It is frustrating to think with the amount of resources we possess in the U.S. it would have been easier to really take a look within him using the impeccable help of technology. With the many advances in medicine, much more could have been done and possibly even cure his disease. However, even with our best intentions to come and travel this far to provide care, it can be frustrating to see that some would just be too ill for us to be able to do anything really.
Most of our care is geared towards primary, secondary and tertiary preventions that are not too invasive and practically adapt to the resources we have. Therefore, there is a lot we could not necessarily do. A case like this is more of an incentive d to keep and keep coming to Haiti and do what we do. It at least helps to spread awareness to people about their health and to also encourage self-sustaining practicality to avoid emergencies like the one we've encountered.

At least, we can say that we are slowly but surely heading that route as we have been able to compare the village's general condition today with last year's.

In an effort to provide more perspective on what we do each and every day we're here in Haiti, we will occasionally post reflections from some of us in our team. Please know that it is a voluntary effort to post emotion and instrosprective thoughts to really connect with vdifferent readers as we know, we all process things differently and seeing a different avenue is  interesting.

Today, we have the pleasure to read Shri's thoughts:

Today, Donna said a prayer by Saint Teresa for grace before dinner that she received from our friend Amy (who is also on the trip with us). How fitting it was. It talked about how we must share our gift of love and remember what a unique gift that is to have. I think I'd be speaking for all of us when I say that we feel blessed to have this opportunity- to share love.

As people that have chosen nursing as a profession, we have this gift. Yet personally, I sometimes find it difficult to find a way to have my love show through to each patient I encounter because of the daily bustle of work. During my time here in Haiti, I want more than ever to share as much love as I can in a country where pain and suffering is all too common. I hope these people see the love I want to give them as I try to make an ailment less painful, or provide them with a comfort measure they have been hoping for. 

Today we shared an especially intense experience when a very, very sick man came to our clinic in a small village in the mountains. It was determined that he was going to die and the most we could do was to carry him back home (because he could not walk) and make him as comfortable as possible in his last moments. After we took him in a truck from the clinic to his home, carried him up a hill, and settled him under a tree outside his house with his daughter, we each took a moment to say goodbye to him and wish him well. In this moment I thought, how can I put ALL my feelings in to a small gesture or words? We do not speak the same language and he is in such pain he can barely comprehend what is happening.  I decided there was probably no way to communicate it all so I chose to touch his arm and hope my love could be sent through that gesture before we walked away. Although I do not know if he even felt my touch or felt more comforted by our presence, I hope he did more than anything. Just as I hope each and every one of our patients feel our love we for them as we give them the care we can.

Tomorrow and Friday are our last two clinics- I can't believe how quickly time has gone! This week has been extremely busy and filled with work to do to prepare and provide care at the clinics-- the hardest part is realizing that I can only be here for such period of time. But I know we will make the most of every second and share our love as best as we can as we have been doing! Here is the prayer that Amy shared with us:

Saint Theresa's Prayer 
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received;
And, pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Clinic day 2 (Tuesday)!!

Yesterday, we were at a village practically at a river bed; a DRIED river bed. It was an immense river bed and the saddest thing was that it was all dried up. We drove in it to get to the village and dust was just incredibly overwhelming. We could see mountains up surrounding us and we could essentially imagine the river flowing on their sides. On some mountain sides, we could practically see the water's markings and really see how high the water could get.

The village was beautiful, and we used a local church, partially damaged from the earthquake to lay our clinic. That village was an interesting place, because it was where water was suppose to reside, and be plentiful, and sadly it was not. At each village, we could see that particular conditions were most prevalent, in this one, many  of the patients we saw complained of dysuria. It definitely caught our attention and we questioned if the water they had left was causing something. UTIs were somewhat common as well. Dehydration, as we could imagine was sky rocking, and is also prevalent in other places. As much as we know water shows much more mercy to the human body, it unfortunately can also be incredibly detrimental. Surely, as many of you read about the effects of the dryness on these villages, you could do nothing but wish for the water/rainy season to come through and soothe everyone and their crop. Well, it may feel like raining on your parade and disappointing you that the rainy season could at times be worst, as the large river gets filled up again and overflows through the villages and cause massive floods. As we were exclaiming about the beauty of the scenery, the interpreters were more concerned about getting out of the area, because they were scared for their lives as the neighborhood would sink and drown under water.

Totally. Different. Perspectives.

A little gleam of hope was however caught throughout the day. An old man, very frail and incredibly malnourished was amongst the last patients who came and saw us. He pleaded for medicine to help with his insomnia.  He needed something. During his visit with the provider he explained how he had a much easier time after the earthquake during the relief effort. He explained that the professionals from the relief were the ones to fix his broken shoulder from the earthquake and had provided him pain and insomnia medications. He was really happy then. Sadly, they had left and he no longer had access to them. Since then, he had resorted to drinking as much as three beers per day to fall asleep. Even then, he would still wake up. Well, alcohol indeed affects sleep patterns and may in fact deteriorate it. When he thought he was helping himself out, he was making his situation worst. As he sat to wait on his prescription, he smiled. He explained that he knows that God continues to take care of him, and even if he were to die, he was not tied down: he didn't have a wife, nor kids. He could die alone and happy. He knew he was not a drunkard, and wanted to stop drinking to fall asleep, he just needed those medications. Then he said, that God took  care of him every day and was confident in Him, but when men took care of him, or of each other, he praises God for that kind of attention.

At the end of the day, we asked the main outreach coordinator for this particular village and the Hôpital St Croix if it would be beneficial to come to that village next year, he exclaimed that he would have preferred we came at least 3times a year!

Believe it or not, what is so minimal to us here in the US is vital to many in countries where people live in those conditions. You would not imagine how a pair of reading glasses from CVS or Walgreens, that cost at most 2 dollars, could change people's quality of lives here and allow a child to see the board when he attends school or studies for the next exam. A cane would restore someone's mobility and independence. A pen could make going to school so much more exciting. A onesie could make a mother look forward to her newborn. A sandal, or flip flop could make walking to work less painful, and children playing less painful.

That man did not have much future, but looked forward to life. His drive and happiness were fueled by acts of kindness from people who came from all over the world and hand him pain meds to work and sleeping meds to sleep well.

Continue to support our yearly effort to Haiti. As much as their hope keeps them going, it keeps us, BCSON going as well!

God bless!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 1 of Clinic!!!

Day one of clinic kept a nervous tick on to a lot of us. Many undergrads were not too sure what to expect  and any mental cheer was essential. Nurse practitioner students were the providers and carried a lot of responsibility to diagnose and to also designate the proper treatments pertinent to their patients' conditions. Alumni have come back along with us on the trip and were of great help to many of us rookies. 

What do we do? And how do we do it, you may wonder? 

Basically, each and everyday  we set up a clinic to different villages that we commute to. In our yearly travels to haiti, during that one week interval, we don't go to the same village twice. That leaves us with the instant need to see as many patients as possible. Oftentimes, our care is one they receive. Some villagers have reported that they have not seen a doctor, nor have they even received a treatment for a condition that they have lived with for years. The poverty level is so high, oftentimes hospitals are really under resourced and cannot treat patients. While in the United States, it is an absurd concept to turn a patient away, many get turn away by the hour in a country as poor as Haiti. Our arrival has been advertised well in advance and as soon as we've arrived in the morning,  inhabitants and residents were already waiting for us. 

On a typical day, we get to the clinic and oversee the site. 
We then decide where each of our posts are going to be laid out. Triage, our first post,  is where patients go to first to have nursing students perform basic assessments ( sets of vitals,  pregnancy testing, urine dips, etc.) and really interview them for the reasons of their visit. Their symptoms and complaints are written down and they are later sent to the providers' post. There, a team of alumn nurse practitioners along with graduate nurse practitioner  students work together to diagnose and determine their patients' treatments. Then, they are sent to pharmacy, where a wide range of medications, from vitamins to pain, and to cardiac are organized and laid out. We obtain the providers' prescriptions and then organize each patients' packets. Nursing teaching is imperative at this site, and each medication directions are fully provided through the vital help of Haitian interpreters. In addition to this organization, branch posts for women's health and dentistry are also included. A women's health nurse practitioner works with both undergrad and graduate nursing students to perform general exams. Mainly, cervical screening has been offered along with referrals to a recent surgeon to contact in Port-Au-Prince for more serious conditions. A local haitian dentist works with us yearly and usually oversees his post. Given that many other health problems can be of greater priority in the lives of these residents battling poverty, seeing a dentist can be their least concern unless it may be incredibly severe and actually deteriorate their quality of lives. Otherwise, they focus on other conditions. A great trend that was evident today was the incredible amount of cervical and dental checks. This increase is a great sign to us providers and given the rarity of these exams, it is this clear indication to us that inhabitants are  becoming aware of the importance of their health and are opting for well visit check-ups as we do here in the united states and other industrialized nations. Last but not least, an extras station to treat baby with scabies has been established. 

As we function daily with an organized and planned system with clear roles designated to each individual, we are then able to highlight certain trends. As each day se move to different villages, undergrad nursing student rotate posts. Henceforth, everyone sees different things and also identify particular trends. For instance, we have encountered an increase awareness for cervical and dental checks. This is a very good sign and  it shows the people's actual awareness and proactivity towards bettering their health besides treating the most obvious diseases. As much of our care usually fall within secondary and tertiary preventions, primary prevention has taken a highlight amongst the villagers and it shows the slow but sure path to a better health statistics amongst Haitians.  

Overall, it was a successful first day and we were able to take about 200 clients, a week's record we broke in 9 hours!! 

A great shout out to BC Nurses in Haiti for an awesome job and exemplary team effort! 

Our First Weekend!!

Hello! Sorry for the delay..
As planned, we safely arrived in Port-au- Prince on Saturday promptly at noon. We went through customs and were on our way to Léogâne, a town 18 miles of the capital. When we arrived to L'Hôpital St Croix, we were cordially received and placed in our rooms. After our delicious dinner, we started to get ready for the week accounting and organizing all of the supplies we had brought. It was a long day and we were soon in bed not knowing the turn our Sunday would take. 

Early, Sunday morning, we woke up for breakfast at 7 and to later attend church. Although the church was completely destroyed following the earthquake it was essentially the cathedral where Jean-Jacques Dessalines had gotten married (Jean-Jacques Dessalines, like Toussaint L'Ouverture was a major character to propel Haiti to its independence. In fact, it's airport used to be named after him before it was changed to "Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport"). The catholic mass was as a result held under a tent near the church's ruins. 

After, heading back to the hospital, we were  hit even harder with the dire reality Haitians face: while we were heading to visit a little boy in the pediatrics ward in the hospital, we saw a group of women holding a woman who could barely walk. She walked in, and we all hoped she'd get the help she'd need.  However, minutes later, we saw her carried back out. Her helpers seemed desperate and they laid her down on a cement bench by the hospital's entrance. Our teacher,  Donna saw and looked worried, and then she started to interview her sisters. The lady was vomitting constantly, and her pupils and eyes were, for lack of better words, "reverted inward". She was unresponsive to pain stimuli and slowly was losing conscious. Her two helpers, the lady's sisters, explained that it had been 8 days since she last ate and had been vomitting for a day straight. Donna knew immediately that Micheline, the woman's name, was pregnant and severely dehydrated. We asked why was it that she was not in the hospital, and her sisters explained that they did not admit Micheline. They would not treat her! This poor woman, only 17 years old was on the verge of her death!
Sorting it out with the hospital, we found out that they turned her away because they didn't have the resources necessary to treat her. Micheline only needed rehydration therapy! 

Oral intake was out of the question, therefore, inserting a peripheral IV was the best and instant solution. We fought it, but the hospital had a strict protocol and referred to take her to the Doctors without Borders a few miles away. Micheline was then carried there on a motto (motorcycle taxis). Even there, it was a fight to get Micheline admitted. Although their service was free and treated "urgent" cases, Micheline could not be admitted because pregnant women were seen only during the week, and they claimed they didn't have enough resources to help. We could not do anything but to insist and have her taken in. After talking to the head nurse and asking for the main doctor, Micheline was finally taken in. Almost momentously after they gave her the intravenous rehydration therapy, Micheline was yet again herself. She was clearly responsive and even was joking with us. She almost lost both hers and her baby's lives because she would not have gotten rehydration therapy, something here in the US, is acquired for and expected. It is so expected, we can forget how, as in Micheline's case, it could be the difference between life and death.  At that exact hospital we met her, we found out that a patient a month ago who was in the same condition, pregnant and severely dehydrated, had tragically died. What would have been of Micheline had she not been there at the right time? 

Later on, our packed day continued its course, and after lunch we went to visit an orphanage at about 3 miles from the hospital. We got to meet the children and spend some quality time with them. We also met other volunteers from a church in Minneapolis and discussed many of the drive we have to provide our help to the orphanage. At this time of year, in the Catholic Church, it is the celebration of the epiphany and they took the occasion to distribute the children's presents for both Christmas and the celebration of Epiphany. As much our day had taken a stressful turn, it ended on a sweet note, as we saw the widen smiles on the children's face as we got to spend quality time with them and treated them to little gifts. 

The night soon came, and we continued to prepare our medical stocks for the week coming along. By 10pm, we were in bed, some sound asleep, others still awake and anxious thinking about the first day of clinics coming along. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tomorrow we will be going to HAITI!


I cannot believe it, but early in the morning we will be boarding to go to Haiti! Nothing stood in our way and thank God the storm passed! We are having one of the coldest winter this year, and we are glad that we are planning to head down as scheduled. 'Tis a positive way to start off the year, in service to others. 

The past weeks have been very hectic in preparation for our trips: packing took an entire day and in total we have 40  50lbs - suitcases. We've created our teaching projects, which are imperative, given that our mission's goal this year is geared towards the villagers' self-care after we leave. Much of what nursing entails is teaching our clients how to take care of themselves and to make their health a priority and thus make necessary adjustments to their lifestyles. 

Most of us are sleeping over at one of the girl's heart warming home and it was so nice of her family to take us in. We are anticipating so much! We've ran through last minute checks and have seen that we have everything we needed. Some of us are feeling excited, nervous, anxious, hoping we did pack our passports (2 of them ran back to their backpacks to check ONCE more!) and of course tired!

We are essentially venturing into the unknown and are welcoming anything and everything we will get to learn. Professionally, we will grow and acquire new skills and as individuals this experience will foster a deeper emotional growth and purpose for our intended career ahead! 

Pray for us as we embark on this journey, and God willing we will be updating the blog in the evenings! Stay with us, from the 4th to the 12th.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Our Annual 5K

Long overdue!!! A week and half ago, Saturday, October 26th, the 5k fundraiser for our trip was held. It was a great success! It was very touching to see how many people had come out to support us. We could not have been any more thankful. Our efforts and the opportunity to go and be nurses for others would not have been real without our devoted supporters.
The 5k is a hallmark for our trip to Haiti as it encourages a healthy lifestyle among our students, faculty and neighbors within the Chestnut Hill and Boston areas. In the meantime, it raises awareness about rampant and ravaging situations in the world, which thus accentuates the greater need for medical and nursing assistance in impoverished communities. Essentially, events like these are helpful for many communities.
As the event carried on very smoothly, I could not help but to think about the amount of work and time had been put into its planning. Being a yearly event, it is easy to think lightly of the time and effort needed to make it a success. I thought about the people who dedicated so much of their time to make it an enjoyable and informative event for everyone. That being said, I have decided to interview its main planners this year. Every year, students from the group volunteer to take charge of organizing the event. During our introductory meeting last spring semester, Meghan Read and Jocelyn H Lund-Wilde volunteered to carry on the task. Since then, it’s been a constant juggling of their time (even during the summer break) to undertake all necessary steps to in fact have a successful event. Also, obtaining an insight on the process deems useful for our successors the upcoming years. 

Here are what Meghan and Jocelyn had to say:
1- Last Spring, on our first meeting, you volunteered to organize the 5K? Why so?
·        We volunteered to organize the 5K because we love to run so it was something we were interested in and also because we have been to the 5K for Haiti in prior years, so we thought it would be a cool experience to come full circle and be part of organizing it this year.
2- How long did it take to plan the 5K?
·        We started working on planning for the 5K in July doing things like writing the fundraising letter and brainstorming about places to ask for donations, and we've continued with planning up until the race today. There is a lot that goes into coordinating this event.
3- How was the process of getting in touch with local businesses to obtain prizes for the raffles?
·        It was very easy to simply go into businesses and provide them with our letter and ask them if they would like to be a part of the race, the harder part was getting them to follow through after they took the letter to get it approved by upper management, but we ended up with a lot of good raffle prizes and donations.
4- Why did you decide on the new route? What was the old route?
We decided on a new route because last year I remembered the route was kind of confusing for people including ourselves, so I wanted to see if we could simplify it and make it more of the 5K length that we were advertising while also sticking to the rule that we could only run on campus. We think the route ended up being very successful.

5- How was it collaborating with the University and Student Activities?
·        Collaborating with Karl Bell was great because he has been doing this with Donna (our faculty coordinating the Haiti trip) for a few years so he knew the questions to ask us as well as being very knowledgeable about what goes on around campus in order for us to find the best ways to advertise.

6 - Last, but not least, seeing how much of a success it turned out, what were some things that you were able to learn throughout this process? What would be your advice and tips for next year's students?
·        We were really happy with the turn out this year, but there could always be more so we think we definitely learned that the date for our race was tricky because we were the week after the very popular Red Bandana Run and it was the weekend of the 4Boston retreat which together we think kept some people from attending. We think our advice to next year’s students would be to stay on top of their planning and to really push their advertising campaign in as many ways as possible to spread the word to as much students as they can, because ultimately all the planning that goes into the race doesn't guarantee that anyone will sign up and the race is all about spreading awareness throughout the campus. We were so happy to see that we have so many people supporting our trip to Haiti. We are looking forward to the trip even more knowing that we have an entire BC community behind us!

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All proceeds go towards our trip!