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Nurses Offer Know-How


Nurses from around the U.S. have left a lasting impression on patients in Haiti since the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in the island nation.

Two RNs from Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland’s Takoma Park campus recently left behind another valuable resource for patients with spinal cord injuries — knowledge.

“We accomplished so much,” said Kathryn Inglefield, RN, nurse manager, who was part of a team that volunteered for a week at MediShare Project’s 500-bed tent hospital near the Port-au-Prince airport in March. “The groundwork has started.”

Though the nurses took care of a wide variety of patients during their trip, they spent a large portion of time teaching.

While caring for as many as 15 patients a day with spinal cord injuries, amputations, orthopedic fractures, infections and malnutrition, Inglefield and Parveen Peter, RN, taught patients and their family members bowel and bladder management programs, including how to use a urinary catheter. “Parveen and I were responsible, for our last four days, for teaching the [spinal cord patients]different modalities of their care,” Inglefield said.

“For spinal cord patients, you have to be able to learn how to do that.”

The education sessions also included attentive family members of the patients.

“It was very rewarding,” Peter said. “It was an opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

The nurses were surprised by the attention Haitian family members paid to their ailing loved ones, including during the teaching sessions.

“You taught them once or twice and watched them do it, and they took it on,” Inglefield said. “There was never a question. They really took charge. It’s kind of frustrating here [at home]because a lot of times we have to beg and plead to get a family member to even come in at the bedside.”

With 250 beds devoted to rehabilitation in the Medi-Share tent, the Adventist team left behind tools such as parallel bars for patients to continue the rehab process.

“One of our therapists built a bar for the patients for exercise, and everybody signed it,” Peter said. “I think that’s going to be helpful for them.”

Inglefield also had a chance to leave behind helpful items — boxes of clothes that her children had outgrown.

“It was so wonderful seeing these kids running around — these orphaned children — wearing my kids’ clothes,” she said. “Their smiles just made your heart melt.”

Barry Bottino is a regional editor for Nursing Spectrum.


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