By Jennifer Browning
Today for National Nurses Day, Project Medishare wishes to recognize the excellent work done by nurses, whether it is at our field hospital in Port-au-Prince or through our Community Health Program in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
So far 624 nurses have deployed with Project Medishare, along side doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, pharmacists, and many other medical professionals. These volunteers lined up to help our neighboring Haiti in their most desperate hour. Each week new nurses arrive continuing to serve in Haiti now close to four months after the quake.
Nurses like Joplin, Missouri’s Michelle Chacon, who after her 12-hour day shift, went back to the pediatric ward several nights to check on one of her patients, Vincent. The 11-year-old boy had just received a life-saving surgery to due to a ruptured gall bladder.
After his surgery, Vincent told Michelle he thought he was going to die that night. Michelle spent the day sitting with the young boy, staying right by his cot, seeing her other patients as needed, but always keeping a close eye him. At the end of her shift, Michelle came back to the pediatrics ward for several hours that evening to sit with him.
“I would just sit by him, look in his eyes, and talk to him,” Michelle said. Despite the language barrier, the two seemed to be able to communicate. “He wouldn’t give up, and I wouldn’t give up on him.”
The next morning, when Michelle began her shift, Vincent greeted her with a big smile full of bright, white teeth.
Two days later, Michelle got to see Vincent stand for the first time since his surgery. A week later, after Michelle had returned to the United States, Vincent was walking with the assistance of a walker. A scene all volunteers at our field hospital were happy to see.
Michelle said that while nursing is the same wherever you may be, she agreed that practicing nursing in Haiti had its challenges.
“With nursing in Haiti, you had to learn to improvise, as not all the medical supplies you need were right at hand,” she said. “The reward in Haiti was greater I think. You could see the impact you made in even just one life. The people there are amazing, so grateful for the care and help they receive. I will always keep a special place in my heart for the people of Haiti.”
Michelle said for her being a nurse is all about giving of yourself and serving others in need.
“It is the greatest job to be able to serve another human being who is down and lift them up. It not only touches your life, but in turn touches their life as well. Sometimes the best medicine is just to take the time to sit beside someone and really listen. Maybe even hold their hand and let them know they are not alone,” Michelle said. “The greatest reward a nurse can receive is a big glowing smile from her patient saying thank you. Just knowing you impacted their life in a positive way caring for them not only physically but lifting their spirits, as well, is reward enough.”
Since returning to her Missouri home, Michelle has been working to raise awareness in her community about Project Medishare.
Many of Project Medishare’s volunteer nurses, like Michelle, have shown the compassion to provide hands-on patient care at the bedside of those we are currently serving in Haiti. These nurses have worked long hours, in challenging conditions and improvised as necessary to help their medical team continue to save lives.
As Project Medishare works toward moving out of the tent hospital and into a permanent fixed-facility, our local staff has hired 30 Haitian nurses, and is interviewing more to eventually take the place of our wonderful volunteers. Soon, these Haitian nurses will receive additional training in order to learn how to provide better care for their patients at the trauma and rehabilitation hospital.
This is Project Medishare’s ultimate goal, to empower the Haitian people to eventually be in control of their own destiny.
Thank you to all of our volunteer nurses who have helped us provide medical relief to those affected by the January earthquake.
These volunteers couldn’t have done their important work without the financial support of many of you who contributed in the early days and continuing months after the earthquake. It costs $300 to send one volunteer to Haiti to work at our field hospital for one week.
If you have already donated, we thank you, but if you can give more today, your tax-deductible contribution will help us continue our important work to those affected by the January 12 earthquake.
If you would like to give more, please click here to go to our secure online donation site. Your generous contribution will help us continue to work toward our goal in not only saving lives today, but helping the Haitian people stand on their own in the future.