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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Post-Trip Reflections

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 After our trip, our last semester at Boston College got incredibly busy. As we reembarked into our lives, it was inevitable that moments from the trip resurfaced and impacted our daily lives. In the midst of their numerous activities, several students have been able to write post-trip reflections and volunteered to share them on the blog. Seeing the trip's impact on their lives will forever remain an intrigue. What has been most interesting is how the same exact experience impacts each person differently. Enjoy the read and happy summer, until next year's trip!!

Meghan Reed
 Last March we began our journey to Haiti, a journey that provided us with one of the most meaningful, unforgettable, and eye-opening experiences of our lives. Our preparation for our trip consisted of attending meetings where we fine-tuned our clinical skills, learned about the Haitian culture, and planned the events of the trip. We developed a strong bond with one another through our fundraising activities, such as selling Simbi bracelets, fundraising at the football games, and hosting the 5K run for Haiti in the fall. With all of the planning and team bonding that we did, we felt prepared; I felt prepared. It was not until I stepped off of that plane in Port-au-Prince when I realized that absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the experience on which I was about embark.

Driving from Port-au-Prince to Leogane, where the guesthouse was located, my eyes were opened to the extremely impoverished living conditions in which the people of Haiti lived. As we drove through the city, “tent-city,” we saw, first-hand, the devastating effects of the earthquake that occurred four years ago. However, it was not the poverty and the suffering that struck me the most; despite the emotional, physical, and economical suffering that many of the Haitian people must endure, I witnessed a unique sense of spirituality, compassion, loyalty, and kindness among the Haitian community that I had never seen in the United States. After attending mass in Leogane on the first Sunday of our trip, I watched the congregation, ranging from newborn infants to elderly grandparents and great-grandparents, come together in prayer and share their faith with one another. In a place where there has been great loss and suffering, the people of Haiti have still found a way to come together, celebrate their faith, and maintain hope.

My most memorable experiences of the trip included going on the home visits throughout the village located on the mountaintop in the village of Trouin. It was during the home visits that I was provided with a better insight into some of the lives of the Haitian people. A group of us (Donna, Mary Kate, Shri, and I) assisted an extremely sick man back to his home, where we would provide him with the medication that he needed to be as comfortable as possible to allow a pain-free and peaceful death. We left the patient under his favorite tree, surrounded by some of his family members. Although it was extremely painful to watch the helplessness in this man’s eyes, and the sadness in the eyes of his family members, it was in this moment that I learned one of the most important roles of the nurse: to provide comfort and hope when patients and their families feel alone, helpless, and hopeless. While we had cultural and language barriers in our way, our presence, we hoped, offered the comfort and peace that he needed at the end of his life. No matter one’s country of origin, socioeconomic status, language, and culture, every individual deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and love.  

I am extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity to embark on this journey with nine of my nursing classmates, four graduate students, nurse practitioners, and Donna. Each and every person that I shared this experience with showed me what it truly means to be “men and women for others.” I look up to every one of these ladies, as their compassion and commitment to service is truly inspiring. This journey to Haiti has not ended, as this experience will remain with me throughout the rest of my life.

Michaela Cummings
God gave me a beautiful, blessed life. I have more love in my life than I know what to do with, and for this reason I feel that I am called to share it with others that are not as fortunate as I. Hence, nursing is my vocation, my calling. I also truly believe that it was in His plan for me to go to Haiti; to learn and grow from all of the wonderful women I went with and to be forever touched by the people we encountered. We had an incredible team that went to Haiti, each one of us bringing another remarkable approach to the care that we provided. I do not want to underestimate the impact that the free medications and procedures had upon the people of Haiti, for both of these things had the ability to provide immediate relief of ailments or prevention of more serious conditions. The sustainability of education within our dental hygiene, nutrition, cycle bead, and other teaching projects also must be noted as significant within the villages that we traveled to. However, I think the biggest impact that we made in Haiti was the love that we shared and the message we sent that to each person we talked with that someone cared. Someone wanted to listen about your headaches and back pain. Someone wanted to make sure that your child did not contract worms. Someone wanted to help relieve your acid reflux. Someone wanted to check to make sure that you did not have cervical cancer. By going on a medical mission to share God’s love, we not only provided the Haitian people with love and faith in God and humanity, but I was overwhelmed by the amount that we received in return. The people of Haiti may not have much, but they have an astounding amount of faith and love that truly touched me and I hope to emulate. One woman, after being seen through triage, cared for by the providers, and simply given vitamins and ibuprofen and biofreeze for her muscle aches proclaimed to the heavens, “Thank you God, thank you for sending us these saviors.” The love we received through simple acts of kindness was overwhelming, and transformational. Most people search a lifetime for the opportunity to positively impact someone’s life. As nurses, we are blessed with the chance to touch and even save people’s lives daily. It is up to us to face and embrace this challenge, with the full force of our knowledge, skills, compassion, and God’s grace, in attempt to make the world and the people in it better and more just when we leave because we cared. Through this process, we receive the most precious gift of all, as demonstrated through the love and gratitude that the Haitian people gave us. For this reason, I feel compelled to give at least two weeks a year to those suffering from financial, emotional, physical and mental poverty within Haiti, other nations, and even in our own backyard. After an experience like that in Haiti, it is honestly the very least that I could do.

Christa Jean-Baptiste

My experience in Haiti is something that I cannot quite describe in a few words. It was an absolutely amazing experience because it was like being reunited with an old and dear friend. I grew up in Haiti, but had never been back since I moved to the US in 2000. So, things were familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. From the beginning of the trip, I told myself that I didn't want to take too many pictures because I didn't want to be inhibited from fully enjoying the sights and connecting with people. The experiences in the clinics were my absolute pleasure because I had the chance to talk/connect with and care for so many different people. Overall, the trip solidified my desire to return and work in Haiti some time in the future.

Shri Sahay
Before going to Haiti in January, part of me felt that I would return feeling sad, guilty, and depressed after seeing misfortune and pain in such an impoverished country. I was so wrong; quite the opposite happened after the quickest ten days of my life passed by in Leogane. The smiles of some of the most joyous and thankful people full of life raised my heart up to feel happiness in a way I have never before. Every moment was a learning experience about what matters in life and how much we have to feel thankful for. Although I do feel the sadness and guilt at times of the unfairness in life, the most important lesson I learned is that happiness has absolutely nothing to do with what anything quantifiable. This feeling is something I will always carry with me. The people of this beautiful country have a piece of my heart forever, as do all of the INCREDIBLE women we traveled with- nurses, students, NP's, and mothers- all people with some of the biggest hearts I have ever known.

Jocelyn Lund-Wilde
Its been almost 2 months since we left for Haiti. I first heard about the CSON trip to Haiti on Admitted Eagles Day in 2010, which was the first year they had the trip. Since that day I had been dreaming of the opportunity to be a part of the trip myself, and I still can’t believe that that dream came true. There was never a question in my mind that the trip would be incredible and life changing. The only question was in what ways would the trip change me and stay with me as I transitioned back to BC and to life here in the US in general. I think the best way for me to demonstrate how profoundly Haiti has affected me and illustrate that I will never forget the people that I met and the experiences I had is to describe the experience I had the day after we returned from Haiti. The experience of driving from the airport back to BC the night we arrived back home is still an experience that I am not sure I can put into words and something that still feels like it was a dream. I was having such a profound culture shock being back in the US surrounded by such wealth and opportunity. Therefore, I don't think I truly processed everything until the next day.
 I went for a run down Heartbreak Hill, which I love to do to clear my head. This run was different though. Usually I give no thought to the mansions alongside Commonwealth Ave that I run by regularly other then to think, “Wow, those are some really nice houses.”  However, this time while I was running down Comm Ave, I would look from side to side at the houses that I passed and the only thought in my head was, “How many Haitian houses could fit inside that one house? How many Haitian families could live inside that one house that is probably being used by a family of 4?” I literally found myself counting in my head, picturing the small concrete or tarp houses that we saw everywhere in Haiti and which would hold often an extended family.  I kept running, but I was just so overcome by the contrast between what I had just been surrounded by for 9 days and what I had returned to that I found myself starting to cry. I must have looked like an incredible mess running down the street with tears coming down my face, but I couldn't stop myself. My stomach was in knots and I just felt so overcome with feelings of guilt and anger. I was angry at the ignorance in the world about life in Haiti, the lack of appreciation for what people have here in the US, and just the excess that we are surrounded by. I felt guilty for having been able to come back from Haiti to a life full of incredible privilege, when I still felt so deeply connected to the people we left in Haiti. It came to the point where I couldn't bring myself to lift my eyes from the pavement because I just couldn't look at those houses anymore or even the cars driving past me that were in such contrast to the patched together vehicles and tap taps we had seen in Haiti. That day was extremely difficult for me, but necessary for me to start to process and transition back to life at BC.  My experience is a perfect representation of the fact that there is no doubt that Haiti has stayed with me and that our time in Haiti will continue to influence my actions and perspective on a daily basis. Thank you to everyone who made the trip possible and who has supported us along the way, because we couldn't have done this without you.

Kaitlin Cooney
To say that my experience in Haiti was eye-opening and life changing would be an understatement.  I gained so much from my experiences, which include establishing mobile clinics and providing nursing care to those in need, visiting various orphanages and feeding many malnourished children.  Our Boston College nursing team grew into a family consisting of young ladies at various career levels, including established Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Practitioner Students, Undergraduates, and several volunteers.  Everyone contributed in her own way, allowing us to provide care for just short of one thousand patients in 5 days.  Now that is impressive!  Each person on the trip, specifically Donna Cullinan, personally inspired me to share love with everyone and to not forget that infinite possibilities are born of faith.  I am so grateful and thankful for everyone who helped to make this trip a reality.  These experiences will be held close to my heart as I continue to learn, provide care and affect the lives of those around me back home.
                                                                                                                                                            Now that it has been almost 2 months since we went to Haiti, I know now more than ever that Haiti
Jillian Galofaro
will have a place in my heart forever. I was truly nervous before we left for our trip, I had never been to a country like Haiti, I had never seen poverty like that. Donna was not lying when she said that you can try to explain what you see in Haiti, but you cannot portray the smells you smell, or the feelings you feel when you are first driving through the streets of Port au Prince, and Leogan. When I was in Haiti I was able to witness beauty in poverty. The people of Haiti were the most beautiful people  that i have ever come into contact with. From the people who would bring their own kitchen chairs to sit and listen and sing at Sunday mass, to the overwhelming "thank you's" that i received as they were leaving the clinic, i fell in love with every one of them. They are poor, but so rich with love in their heart for anyone who they speak with. Many of their bodies are frail from hunger, but their minds and souls are stronger than anything I have ever experienced. When i cried, they smiled, and then they taught me to smiled with them. I cannot conclude my reflective paragraph with out describing the children- my favorite part of every clinic day was when i could talk and play with all of the kids who attended the clinic. We did teaching with the kids on brushing your teeth, and after they got their tooth brush and prize (a pair of underwear!) they would stick around to play games with us until the clinic was closed. I have never seen children so happy, and laughing so hard just because i showed them a picture that i took of them. One little girl told the one of the translators to tell me that she had never seen a picture of herself, and i could have cried because every child should get to see how beautiful they are. I think out of all of the things in Haiti, i miss the children the most. I am so grateful to Donna for giving me this life changing opportunity, she has given me a gift that is absolutely priceless. I cannot describe in enough words how much Donna has influenced me, she is the most passionate, smart, and loving woman I know, and I am so lucky that I get to share this special bond with her! I love you Dodo! 

Last day of Clinics Day 5

It has been a while, however, here is the account of the last day of clinics...

Day five of clinical was at an ideal place. We were at a little village right by the ocean and as much as our day was hectic, the ocean's magic worked its way to soothe the air and make everything calm. It did also help that it was our fifth day running clinics and getting into the flow of things had been much easier. We were more caught up into our work and finished triaging the villagers very early. Although the wait was long to see the providers, having the triage task force more on a floating role, allowed more helpers in pharmacy, cervical screening and the scabies station.

This village was less agitated, and were rather patient. Last year's undergraduate seniors along with Donna and the graduate nursing students had visited this village. Henceforth, it was the providers’ consecutive visit to that village. They that were also there were really happy to see their improvement over a year's period, because a lot of the patients' visits were well-visit check ups. Of course we did encounter very urgent cases, but the majority of the people were for the most part healthier than a year before. Seeing the almost stark differences is rather soothing for healthcare providers.

Particularly, an incredibly frail man had come and instantly caught our attention. He had appendicitis. Again, we were underresourced and our best bet was to stabilize him and find the fastest means to send him to a major hospital for surgery. Our biggest worry was for the appedecite to perforate the abdominal wall, and thus aggravate the situation and causing the man to become septic. Putting things into perspective, usually appencitis in the USA is best treated with surgery, or appendectomy. It is quite common, and is a procedure performed a number of times in hospitals. However, in a country as underesourced as Haiti, it is best to just hope he finds the necessary care after being sent to a hospital.

Another aspect of the day involved teaching family planning to the villagers. As we have in the past, we continued to bring the system of "cycle beads". They are basically bracelets made out of beads. A number of beads are put in to equal the average number of days a woman's menstrual cycle lasts. Through that system, we hope to demonstrate which days of a woman's menstrual cycle she is the most fertile, in other words, when a woman is most likely to become pregnant. Knowing so would actively encourage the people to practice safe sex and methods to avoid accidental pregnancies. Also, furthering the education, it also encourages the use of preservatives as they will understand that they also run the risk of contracting STIs, or sexually transmitted diseases. The interesting turn the education had taken was the active role and participation the men had particularly taken. They were excited to be involved in aiding their girlfriends/wives in bettering their sexual lives. They even opted to have a bracelet of their own, in addition to getting one for their significant other. One man expressed that to him, it was a way to protect his "girl". He wants what is best for her, and having a cycle beads allows him to understand her and her body more. In other words, it puts him in her shoes as well, and makes him feel actively involved in bettering their sexual health.

This is a positive outlook for Haiti's health and the more people become aware of their sexual health, and practice safely, the lesser the incidence of STIs and HIV will be. Self-Sustaining health is our goal, and prevention is a primary focus in our efforts in the country.

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.