Medical Teams Abroad
In November 2015, I had the honor of traveling with Hope Force International [HFI] to Haiti to provide health care to those who are otherwise unable to afford care. My trip to Haiti came from this desire to learn more about the vision of HFI in continuing to provide care to those still in critical need. What better place to train and learn about disaster relief than from a developing country after the devastation from natural disaster.
Each time a disaster happens I feel called to give where I am gifted and that is through my service as a medical professional. I have been an RN since 1986. I have worked in many facets of nursing but primarily in the surgery setting. These skills are not lost when it comes to disaster. I joined various groups over the years helping any way that I could by providing my skills and knowledge. In May of 2015 I received a call for a second response team to join the medical team working in Nepal after a mega earthquake left the country in devastation. After spending time in this beautiful country with the people who have so little and literally lost everything they had, I knew I wanted to do more. Hope Force was different than other organizations I had been with in the past in that they wanted to continue to make a difference in the lives of those that had lost so much for the years to come. One of the goals of HFI is not just to provide the so critically needed care during the initial stages of disaster, but also to train and build up the leaders of the villages to begin to help their own people. The teams are trained to meet the physical needs of the people, as well see to their emotional and spiritual needs with prayer, love and compassion. While in Nepal I had the honor to work with Marianne. She and her husband have given their lives to ministry in a very unique and selfless way. They felt called by God to reach out to the people of Haiti after the devastation of the earthquake in 2009. Marianne, a register nurse and her husband Rene went to help with disaster relief immediately after the earthquake and have stayed in Haiti to help the people rebuild their lives.
By serving in Haiti we get a feel for disaster relief in a more controlled environment. The entire team gets a feel for what it is like to trek across the land with backpacks in tow to take medical supplies and help to small villages unreachable by car. We got a feel for working under the difficulties that may be faced in any country after a disaster. Even the things we take for granted such as, having clean water can be a challenge. My teammates included one MD, several nurses, one PT and several non-medical assistants. We traveled to the villages by foot, set up a clinic in a covered area or under tarps each day. We also set up tarps to provide shade form the sun for both providers and the long lines of patients coming to be seen. We promised all who desired would be seen. Our team, although most of us had never met, worked extremely well together in the clinic setting. Marianne as the clinical leader, and having set up “Traveling clinics” so many times before really has the procedure down. She helps make it as smooth as possible given the setting and obstacles we face. The clinics in Haiti really provide a way for medical professional of all types to step out of their comfort zone and get trained for future disaster relief. - Written by: Nancy Cleppe, HFI Reservist, RN
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