Volunteers mentor Haitian nurses in spinal cord patient care
By Jennifer Browning
At Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare (HBMPM) motivated volunteers to work side by side as mentors to their Haitian colleagues in medicine, nursing and allied health professionals, in the traditional Project Medishare model of “Train the Trainer.”
Lorenette Patrick, a nurse practitioner who works at Jackson Memorial Medical Center’s spinal cord rehab, participated in training nurses working with spinal cord patients.
While volunteering at HBMPM, Lorenette not only teaches local nurses, but also teaches the patient and their family members basic lessons on how to care for people with spinal cord injuries. This is mainly teaching them the importance of proper bowel care for these patients, as well as how to prevent bedsores.
Sindy Abdon, a nurse working in the spinal cord unit, said she has learned a lot from Lorenette and others who have come to volunteer at HBMPM.
“One of the most important thing I have learned is the bowel care for the patients because it is so important for these types of patients so they don’t become septic and have troubles from infection,” she said. “Also I have been learning a better way to turn and position the patients to help prevent wounds and bedsores.”
For the spinal cord patient and their families, Lorenette presents these care giving tasks as important jobs.
“By teaching them basic spinal cord injury care the nurses here and the patient’s family members can understand why the patients have these specific problems,” she said. “This helps them fully understand why these problems need to be addressed immediately or the patient is going to have serious problems.”
Sindy said she feels that the training program at HBMPM is very important because not only is she able to further her own education as a licensed nurse, but she is also learning how to teach her nursing colleagues.
“The way they teach me is to learn one thing and then practice it. This helps me also learn how to teach other Haitian nurses how to care for our spinal cord patients here. It is important for me to be able to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves,” she said. “But now, with the volunteers here to help us, I am learning how to better take care of our patients.”
Lorenette said by mid-week she was already seeing progress.
“I was pleased to see a nurse was already starting to teach others,” Lorenette said. “It reinforces that they are the ones who are going to be in charge and not be intimidated by volunteers coming from the U.S.”
For Lorenette seeing the Haitian nurses take charge is important and shows that Project Medishare’s mission to empower the Haitian people is being accomplished here.
“It shows how much Project Medishare is invested in the patients here and how they have the Haitian people’s well being at heart,” Lorenette said. “When you come here and work you see how much is being done for the Haitian people. [The doctors and nurses] are not only helping earthquake victims, but they are also helping people who had no other means of getting care and here they continue to do that.”
Project Medishare continues to stand committed to Haiti nationwide. Training programs like this one that is improving nursing care for spinal cord patients in Haiti, is just one of the many ways we are working to improve Haiti’s healthcare infrastructure.
If you would like to support training programs like this one, please click here to make an online tax-deductible donation today.