NY-VT Nurses Unite, a group of area health professionals and students, will visit Honduras March 16-23. The group will provide medical care for the poor and under-served.
Amy Russell struggles to describe the rewards of her work with poor residents of Honduras, but the nurse understands perfectly.
“It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been a part of something like this,” she said. “But once you go, you know exactly want I mean. There’s a wonderful feeling you get when you help someone in need. The smile you get when you make someone’s life a little better is priceless.”
That’s why Russell, a Ticonderoga nurse, will lead a group of area health professionals and students back to Honduras March 16-23.
The group, NY-VT Nurses Unite, is part of Global Brigades, a global health and sustainable development organization. Global Brigades mobilizes college students and professionals through skill-based service programs to improve quality of life in poor communities. Groups work in the areas of health care, dental care, public health, environment, architecture, law, business, finance and water development.
In past years local volunteers have traveled with groups from the University of Southern Illinois Medical School and the University of Denver. This is their first trek as their own chapter.
Russell works for Genesis Healthcare at Mountain View Center in Rutland as the director of nursing in training. She is also a clinical instructor in the North Country Community College Ti campus nursing program. Using her contacts in both states, Russell formed NY-VT Nurses Unite.
Making the trip to Honduras with Russell will be NCCC students Angela Fleming, Lori Fuller, Katie Cruickshank, Angie Kilburn, Sara Roskidany and Natasha Pratt.
New Yorkers making the trip include Callista O’Bryan, RN, a NCCC graduate; Anthony Galea, RN, a NCCC grad employed at Inter-Lakes Health in Ti; Monica Lawrence, a NCCC grad employed at Inter-Lakes Health in Ti; Dusti Pratt, RN, a NCCC grad employed by Elizabethtown Community Hospital; Sandra Sprague, a RN employed at Inter-Lakes Health; Selina Lemay-Klippel, an associate professor in the NCCC nursing program; and Maria Fuller, LPN, employed at Inter-Lakes Health.
Dusti Pratt is making the trip with her daughter, Natasha.
Vermonters making the trip include Lianne Rush, RN; Phoebe Cole of Fletcher Allen Health Care; Karin Stafford, RN, a NCCC grad who works are FAHC; Janet Salotti Page of Rutland, a medical records technician at Genesis Health Care, Mountain View Center; Donna Jackson, RN, a nurse manager at Genesis Health Care, Mountain View Center; Sarah Neff, a social worker at Genesis Healthcare, Mountain View Center; Stephanie Mozzer, RN, and Ritza Arias Nunez, a student.
While in Honduras the group will work with local doctors. They plan to visit three villages and expect to see 800-900 patients.
“We see a lot of people in an eight-hour day,” Russell said. “We start by setting up a computer data base so future brigades can see what treatments patients have received. We then do triage before we provide care. Finally, each patient goes to a dental station for treatment.
“Usually the only time these people see a doctor or nurse is when a brigade comes to their village,” she added
Each patient will receive a physician consultation, teeth cleaning and a fluoride treatment as well as have access to pap smears, prostate exams and restorative dental care as necessary. Volunteers will have the opportunity to take patient vitals, obtain patient history and current symptoms, shadow and assist physicians and dentists, participate in preventative education, and fill prescriptions under a licensed pharmacist.
“You never know what you’ll find,” Russell said. “Last year we had a woman whose foot had been run over by a car. She walked miles to reach us and get treatment. It was fractured and we didn’t have any splints. We made a splint out of cardboard and duct tape. We call it MacGyver medicine.
“I love it,” she said of the experience. “I hope I can go every year. The people are so thankful. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get.”
Russell is a strong ambassador for the program. When she first went in 2011 five local people went along. Last year there were nine. This year 22. Russell would like to reach 35 NY-VT participants.
“The kids (NCCC students) know about it now and want to be involved,” Russell said. “That’s why we go in March, during spring break.”
The trip is rewarding, but it’s also expensive. Each member of the team must pay for transportation and food as well as bring medical supplies.
NY-VT Nurses Unite has raised about $15,000 for its trip, but needs more. Any shortfall will be bourne by the travelers. Upcoming fund-raising events include Whirlies World in Middlebury Sunday, Feb. 24, at noon and a bake sale at Stewart’s in Port Henry Sunday, March 3, at 9 a.m.
The group also accepts donations on its website www.empowered.org/NY-VT-Nurses-Unite-Med-Brigade-March-2013-Honduras. Donations can also be mailed to NY-VT Nurses United, 3489 NYS Rt. 74, Ticonderoga 12883.
For more information Email nyvtnursesunite@gmail