A Not So Ordinary Day In The Life
Brittany Crush is the Chief Nursing Officer of Pediatrics at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Prior to arriving in Haiti, Brittany worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Boston. In April of 2010, Children’s Hospital assembled a group of volunteers to work at the Project Medishare Field Hospital in Haiti. Brittany was part of the group that stayed for one week and she “fell in love with the experience.” In August of 2010, she decided to take a three-month leave of absence from her job at Children’s Hospital in order to volunteer as a charge nurse in Pediatrics at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. After completing her volunteer stint, Brittany was still not ready to leave Haiti so she stayed and was hired by Project Medishare in December of 2010.
Day in the Life
There are no ordinary days for Brittany. On days that she is responsible for staffing the unit at the hospital, she wakes up at 5am so she is at work by 5:45am. On days that she does not have to staff the unit she is up at 6:30am and at the hospital around 7:30am. She starts most days by doing rounds of all of the units to make sure she answers all of the volunteer nurses’ questions and their patient needs. Then she checks on all of the patients in pediatrics with the staff physician and the volunteer physician. After doing morning rounds, her days are never really the same. Most days she has at least one transport from the hospital to other facilities for diagnostic testing or patient transfers, she arranges to get blood from the Red Cross for patients who emergently need it, she assists with procedures in wound care and in the Emergency Room when sedation is needed, etc. She can often be found providing care at the bedsides of critically ill patients in the pediatric department. Brittany’s scope of work goes beyond the medicine that she practices. She recently started a movie night for the children in the hospital and also planned and executed an Easter celebration complete with basket decorating and an egg hunt. She is also training the pediatric nurses in Congenital Heart Defects, Hydrocephalus, Ventilators and CPR.
Brittany oversees the care for up to 18 patients ranging in age from premature babies born at 29 weeks to teenagers that are 16 years old. Hospital Bernard Mevs has 14 cribs and 5 cots in the pediatrics department. The majority of the patients that are in Brittany’s care are babies born prematurely and toddlers up to 3 years of age. The most common reasons why these young patients are admitted are for fever, sepsis, seizures, meningitis, respiratory distress and trauma from car accidents or falls.
After a 12-hour workday that is exhausting both physically and emotionally, Brittany leaves the hospital between 6:30pm and 7:30pm. When she gets home, she usually makes a simple dinner of pasta or tuna fish and then is in bed early by 9pm or 10pm. She leaves her phone on over night for any emergencies or needs that the hospital may have. Every few weeks Brittany goes out to dinner at a restaurant in Petion-ville that has live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Brittany’s living quarters in Haiti are slightly different than the ones she was occupying at home in the US. She currently resides in a two bedroom apartment in Delmas, a section of Port-au-Prince. She shares the apartment with Rachel, the volunteer coordinator at Hospital Bernard Mevs. The girls each have their own bedroom, but they share a bathroom. They live in the same building as the other long-term Medishare staff. The television in the apartment has not been turned on yet as there is no cable or DVD player. They do not have internet access in the apartment so Brittany says that it “is a challenge in trying to communicate home via Skype.” She does not have a lot of time to keep up with US pop culture unless a volunteer brings down a People or US Weekly magazine.
In Her Words:
“My favorite part of working with Project Medishare is that I get to work in a country with such amazing people. Every day I see people who have been through the worst come in to the hospital with smiles on their faces. They appreciate anything you can do to help them or a family member. I feel blessed everyday to be here.”